Well, it’s that time of year again. Summer has come to a screeching halt, and everyone
has packed up and arrived at school. There were lots of things to be excited about upon arrival:
catching up with friends you hadn’t seen all summer, decorating your dorm room with posters to
cover up all the holes in the wall and even setting up rat traps!
I must admit, I was very excited to return this semester. Things do seem to be inching
their way back to normal and I couldn’t be happier. That said, nothing could have prepared me
for walking into the now “normal” Deece. After a year of a quiet and less populated dining hall, I
had forgotten what it was like to see hundreds of people galavanting around and taking up every
possible seat in the place. Most importantly––and terrifyingly––I could recognize all of them.
This is where my dilemma began. During our “COVID year,” it had become acceptable to
catch up with a simple wave or a meaningless “So nice to see you.” If you are one of my friends
and reading this, I genuinely am happy to see you, but I have far more important things to do
with my day than catching up, like neglecting to purchase the $70 Italian textbook I need for
class by Monday.
Yet, walking through the Deece, I was bombarded with Hellos and How-are-yous. I
remember the good old days when you would make awkward eye contact with someone and
pretend it didn’t happen in order to avoid human interaction. But sadly, those glorious days are
over and I am forced to say hello. I am fully aware of how rude that sounds, but thankfully
throughout my life I have been able to display the “I’m interested and paying attention to you”
face while simultaneously zoning out. I once made it through an entire family reunion, listening
to my 80-year-old relatives talk about things that had happened before I was alive, by trying to
keep track of all 50 states in my head. I kept forgetting Maryland.
I have to admit, it was pretty interesting hearing about everyone’s summer. Kids our age
really do some cool stuff when they are given the opportunity. But when it came to my turn to
answer, I was forced to admit that I basically laid in bed and watched TV the whole time. I tried
to get a job, but not hard enough to actually hear anything back, and basically just went into my
mom’s room to annoy her every 20 minutes or so.
When I provided this response, I was met with confused stares and a hurried, “OK, I’ll
see ya around.” That is when it hit me: I had become what I had feared most. I was the person
that answered in excruciating detail how their summer was. It was a sad reality to come to terms
with, and I have done a lot of reflecting since then, even though it’s been less than two weeks.
At the end of the day, everyone wants to catch up and keep tabs on their friends. But
what I have learned is that maybe a two-second encounter at the Deece while blocking
everyone in line at the soda machine is probably not the best place and time.