~Forgotten Wings~

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3 November 2002

I've been looking at apartments this weekend.

When Alex first talked about us getting an apartment, I said, "Maybe, I guess," to placate him. I said, "I'll consider it, if it's perfect, if it's really close to campus." I said, "I'll think about it, I'm not ruling it out."

I want an apartment. I want an apartment.

I'm not sure how much of this has to do with the whole "PARC is a sinking ship" thing. I used to love PARC, the idea of it but also the living of it. I was sure I was going to be a lifer-where else would I possibly want to live? There were two parts of it, each more convincing than the other. There was the incredible joy of dorm life, which was just about the best way of living ever invented; what could be better than having all your friends in one place, where you can IM them and then see them in an instant, where you all live together and see each other all day, with all sorts of wonderful people a few steps away? And as if this wasn't good enough, the people happened to be PARCers, marvelous, exciting people who amuse and delight me, good friends as well as people I'd never be close to but are wonderful to spend time with.

I've felt more loyalty to PARC than to maybe anywhere or anything else in my life. I'm not one for school spirit, and certainly not for patriotism. I don't have any sense of religious or ethnic identity. I would feel silly or uncomfortable defining myself as a Wildcat, an American, or what have you. But I am a PARCer, and that makes me happy and proud. I always joke about the idea that if I ever become wealthy and have money to give to Northwestern, I will earmark it exclusively for PARC.

I still love PARC. I still love the idea. I still love the people who are PARCers, the upperclassmen and the small number of freshmen who are starting to show promise. But there aren't many of them, not at all. This building is full of residents who are not PARCers, not by my personal, somewhat arbitrary, but loving judgment of what a PARCer is. The fact that they are irritating and frustrating and depressing is incidental to this, but it just makes me want to leave them, to leave it all.

Whatever it is that makes PARC PARC is seriously in danger right now; we all know that. I understand deeply why some people feel the need to try to help preserve it, to somehow do something to help keep next year from being a disaster. There's a part of me that feels that it would be terribly disloyal to leave PARC at a time like this, that I owe it to this place if I truly love it. That's the part of me that insists I have to non-res next year, no matter what. That's the part that says that I have to ignore the voices telling me how sad it will be to see the hopeless case that PARC seems to be destined to be next year and that I should just try not to look. Because some of me really doesn't want to see what happens next year. It wants to cling to the upperclassmen this year and remember how much fun last year was and then move on and leave with my memories more or less intact. It wants to leave because there's something to flee from, because next year could be painful in a way people who haven't loved PARC can't comprehend.

But that's not the whole story, not by a long shot. Even if the freshman class this year was perfect, what's going on inside of me would still be going on inside of me. And that something is excitement and adventurousness and something that is poking me and saying, "Go forwards!" and making me grin. It's something that tells me that a college dormitory is not where I belong for much longer. It's something that whispers, "There are so many changes in your future, so many things to grow into. It's time to grow into this one now." It reminds me how close I am to a huge wide-open future, a dizzying frightening exhilarating one. And it lets me turn it into a process of changing, not a sudden jump before I'm ready.

I know that not everyone thinks this is a big deal. I know that not everyone needs this in their process of growing. I know that lots of people have apartments, and that I'll still be in school taking classes instead of working so it really won't be the same as supporting myself. But it is important for me. I have spent all my life living either in my parents' house, or in this cozy building at 1838 Chicago Avenue where I manage my bedroom and buy textbooks and snacks and everything else is taken care of for me. I've felt trapped and restless and ready to move from the former for a while; now I know that I'm getting ready to leave behind the lovely, comforting confines of PARC as well. It's something to do for myself, something to help me become the person I want to grow to be.

There are drawbacks, of course. I am so scared that if I'm far away from my friends, even if it's not that far away, that we will drift apart. It's easy to be friends with people who you enjoy spending time with when they're accessible. I'm afraid that people won't be willing to make the effort to come see me; I'm afraid that I will be lazy and will not put in the effort to see them despite wanting to be with them. I want to round them up and plant them inside whatever building becomes ours, so that I'll know that I won't lose them for any of the silly reasons we lose people. I want to cherish them before I graduate and the effort necessary to see them suddenly becomes Herculean. I will enjoy living with Alex, but there are other people who are special to me too, and I want to have them all that close. Or barring that, I want some sort of guarantee that in doing this for me, I will not end up losing them. But life doesn't come with guarantees; it comes with risks and trade-offs.


Last updated 4 November, 2002


Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002