“‘All my life appears to be one happy moment.’ This is what the first man in space said,” writes Jenny Offill in “Dept. of Speculation.” It’s easy to imagine why he was moved to say this. As the astronaut moved out of earth’s atmosphere, our planet would become increasingly smaller and drowned in the enormity of outer space; just a blip among millions of other blips, making his every sad memory fade into the cosmos. Graduating can produce the same effect. As my time at Vassar begins to feel like something I’m looking at through a rearview mirror, the bad will become hazy, the good into sharper focus.
Suddenly, all of my Vassar life appears to be sitting on the porch of 102 College Ave. with friends, listening to Fleetwood Mac. All of my Vassar life appears to be a single Founder’s Day. All of my Vassar life appears to be the feeling of getting the interview, of getting the internship. All of my Vassar life appears to be laughing over drinks with a professor after his reading. He signs in my book, “I am so proud of you and your writing.”
All of my Vassar life appears to be those classes that enlightened me, changed me and challenged me. It appears to be the four women’s studies courses I took with the same professor, who made me feel smart and strong enough to shape the world in my vision. All of my Vassar life appears to be lazing in the orchard among the pink trees. All of my Vassar life appears to be a full Thanksgiving dinner my housemates and I decided to cook in April.
This collection of moments is one I will look back on most frequently, and together they create a snapshot of the joy I’ve experienced over the last four years. But without the other parts, this portrait is incomplete.
There were, of course, many tears. Stress tears, when there was too much work and too little time. Failure-feeling tears when I blew the job interview. Tears in a Strong stairwell. Tears under the covers in my Cushing single. Some of these came from temporary sadnesses and frustrations: the 15-page paper got written, another interview would come along. Others were deeper devastations. Still, with them, there was always a friend with a shoulder or an emergency bottle of wine hidden in a forgotten kitchen cabinet. In equal measure, these highs and lows formed the texture of my Vassar life.
Here, I became a smarter, more caring, more questioning and critically-thinking version of my previous self. For that, I must thank my professors, peers, parents and Vassar proper, an institution that gave me the tools to see that it is just as wonderful as it is flawed. While growing up just 20 minutes away from Vassar, I would drive by it at least once a year for my dance recitals at Poughkeepsie High School. From an eight-year-old’s vantage point, it was a castle, a magical utopia set aside from the humdrum of suburban life. Little by little, some of the spell starts to wear off: The word “problematic” is now grating, the line for Express Lunch is too long, and the tulips in Main Circle will always wilt after two weeks. Even so, I never became disenchanted with Vassar’s beauty and I never took for granted the enormous privilege I had in being able to call this campus home.
If I ever came close to forgetting how fortunate I was, it was after spending hours doing work in the library. With final exams still fresh in our memories, we can recall the feeling well—the writer’s block, the exhaustion and those damn tour groups, noisy and chipper and oblivious to the fact that you’re about to keel over at your laptop. Yet these tour groups always filed in at the right moment, allowing me to feel the awe of experiencing Vassar for the first time.
And then there is The Miscellany News, this beautiful, terrible thing you are holding, or gazing at on your screen, or fanning yourself with on graduation hill. I started writing for The Misc the second semester of my freshman year and never looked back. As a reporter, I learned to be curious. As Features Editor I learned how to forgo embarrassment so that I might not feel shame when knocking on a writer’s door at midnight to ask for her front-page article. As Senior Editor I learned the maximum number of puns you could fit into one headline. As Editor-in-Chief I learned to send the paper to print and to never look at it again. For sanity’s sake.
I lived some of my best memories in the Misc office, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings; writing, editing, laughing, joking, complaining. Sometimes I was convinced I was going to crumble under the stress of it all, but just a computer or two over there was someone to help me co-write an article or think of a lede. Most often, this person was Chris Gonzalez, a friend whose endless support means the world to me. Thanks to you and to all of the Misc editorial board members who have made my writing better.
Thanks to my best friend Shivani Davé. When I think of Vassar I will always think of you and how we first toured the campus together and how, when we found out we had both been accepted, we promised we’d always be there to play with each other’s hair when things went wrong.
Thank you to my housemates, Lorena, Kiran, Ben and Benno. Together, we made TH 132 a home. Thanks to TH 122—Cat, Ceci, Meesh, Alex, Katherine and sometimes Phil. Our adventures won’t end here. And thanks to everyone in between, the characters who populate our tiny Vassar world, growing ever-tinier in our rearview mirrors.
—Marie Solis is an English major with a Hispanic studies correlate. She has held multiple positions on The Miscellany News, including Editor-in-Chief.