The first day of college I almost threw up on my Mom. The rental car was turning onto Hooker Ave., and the voice of the GPS, sounding how I expect the Grim Reaper sounds, informed us we were “approaching our destination.” The seat belt could no longer contain me. I began sliding down the seat slowly, until my head rested where my unfortunately sweaty back was a moment before.
I was internally berating myself as we drove through the gates and my Mom honked enthusiastically at the house team members who were holding up equally enthusiastic signs. “Lily, this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. You’re 3,000 miles away from home. Those dogs in Homeward Bound had an easier journey home than you are going to have and they faced mountain lions. What’s wrong with you? How do you even make friends in New York? Are they different here? What is a friend? How do you talk to strangers? What speaking is? How talk?”
As I tried to melt into my seat, going to Vassar went from a vague, sometime-in-the-future, you-were-always-going-to-college-because-your-parents-are-teachers-and-that’s-what-you-do type of decision to an immediate one. It didn’t gradually sink in, I was just there. I was there and my life had changed and I wanted to throw up.
I assume graduation will be along similar lines, where I am shaking hands with whoever gives me my diploma (is that you, Cappy?), and I then throw up everywhere and I know my life has changed forever, again.
Of course, if I throw up on Cappy at graduation, almost every single person I love in the world will see it. On that first day of orientation, it was just my Mom and some strangers that I almost (ALMOST) puked on. But, you know what, reader who I may know or reader who I don’t know but is now looking for my name in the program and hoping for a show? It’s so much better to throw up in front of people you love than people you don’t.
The first day of orientation I met a guy in the Villard Room who introduced himself in what I now know was an attempt to be over-friendly because he thought that everyone here was weirdly friendly and he didn’t want to stand out by not doing that. Plus he knew my roommate. During Pilates my second semester of my sophomore year, I complained to a girl I knew but didn’t know that well about my boyfriend and she listened while kind of falling off her medicine ball. First semester of senior year, a girl and I had a long talk. Then another. Then another. Then one about whether technology would inevitably create an apocalypse. That one was important and I want everyone to be careful around any potential robot gorillas with jetpacks.
These people, and what could be called a “crew” of others, are the most important people in my life. If I throw up on Cappy, they will comfort me and then laugh at me and then they will probably make fun of how I say bagel. I have not felt lonely, or unsupported, for a single moment in the last four years because of them.
They are the reason I know Vassar has been life changing. I would probably know it anyways. I changed somewhere in between right now, when I am studying for a final five days (FIVE DAYS, YO) ahead of time, and the moment I realized that I can’t just go into a philosophy midterm and ‘wing it.’ I still could not tell you what Heraclitus thought about anything, but I do know that the answer is not whatever I put down. Sorry, Professor Seidman.
Even though I can see those changes, the change from Orientation Lily to Graduation Lily, I don’t believe they would have happened without the friends that I have. I am shaped by them, in my weird, over-enunciating, waddling-like-a-penguin, part-puppy part-human way.
I recognize at this point that this is less a retrospective and more an essay about vomit and a love letter about friendship. Which is weird. But my Vassar experience is (was? Dear god no, no past tense, please stop) weird and full of love and sometimes vomit and it was never exactly what I expected it to be, so I suppose I shouldn’t have thought this piece of writing would be anything else.
It’s possible that come graduation, this newspaper will be folded up into an artistic and shade-providing hat, with my thoughts on friendship soaking up your head-sweat. I appreciate that. I hope that while I throw up all over Cappy, my thoughts, my friends, and my fears, are keeping you happy, because that is everything writing, especially writing for this newspaper, does for me.
I also hope that while I puke onto Cappy, you send a text message to your son or daughter or boyfriend or girlfriend or brother or sister (your graduate, okay?) and congratulate them on their poise under pressure and lack of projectile vomit. On a life-changing day like our graduation, they deserve it.
—Lily Doyle is the outgoing Humor & Satire Editor for the Miscellany News, a swimmer, and a breakfast enthusiast.