I applied to Bowdoin for two reasons: The College had accepted my best friend early decision, and the Office of Admissions had sent me a glossy brochure, inside of which was one photo in particular that appealed to the romantic idealism of my 17-year-old self.

The photo showed a group of Bowdoin boys, bundled in brightly colored winter jackets as they played pickup hockey on the Quad. Hubbard Hall, framed by a row of trees and bathed in the light of a winter sunset, loomed in the background. 

For me, the photo was—and remains—a more generous offer than William DeWitt Hyde’s “Offer of the College.” It offered me a myth of Bowdoin, the myth of a place where the past bled into the present, a place where I could participate in academic toil one day and tomfoolery the next, a place with a literary quality that I'll never be able to describe.

Daily life at the College can’t possibly live up to this myth. During a hectic day of quizzes, 100-page readings, club meetings, essays and internship applications, it’s impossible to remain conscious of everything that life at Bowdoin means. At the end of that sort of busy day, I trudge home across the Quad, my head down, already scheduling myself for a frantic tomorrow.

When I look back at Bowdoin, I won’t remember those days. I’ll remember my four years at Bowdoin for those rare moments when the myth overcame the mundane—those moments when I lived the myth.

I’ll remember a Saturday in January of my sophomore year when two friends and I set out to convert Reed House’s backyard into an ice rink. 

We ran garden hoses from Reed’s basement bathroom up the stairs, out a window, and across the yard. None of us had any rink-making experience (and we were all humanities majors), so we expected the process would only take a few minutes. We thought it would be as simple as spraying some water, watching it freeze, and grabbing some skates.

It quickly became clear that we wouldn’t be skating for hours, so we descended into the basement and ratcheted up the water pressure by turning on the hot water. The three of us spent the rest of the afternoon drinking beers, watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and intermittently checking on the glacial progress of the rink. Just before dinner, a towel-clad Reed resident burst into our room and informed us with polite anger that there was no hot water in our 28-person House. And when the hot water returned 36 hours later, the rink was still hardly more than a soggy lawn.

I’ll remember reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Blithedale Romance” in the very same Massachusetts Hall in which Hawthorne studied. I’ll remember poring through “Tales from Bowdoin,” a 1901 book described as “some gathered fragments and fancies of undergraduate life in the past and present told by Bowdoin men.” Lounging on the windowsill in the Shannon Room, I’d put the book down from time to time and looked out on the Quad, imagining the Bowdoin men of the 19th century mischievously sneaking toward the Chapel under the cover of darkness.

But most of all, I’ll remember late nights at the Orient House when, after 13 hours of work, we clustered around a computer and collaborated on the final and most important part of the production process: conjuring up a suitably clever name for the editorial. We would spend all night considering Bowdoin’s purpose and its policies, and it all culminated in this pre-dawn moment when every joke was hilarious and no suggestion was too terrible to consider.

At the end of those nights, I strolled across the Quad and stopped at its center to gaze up at Hubbard Hall, which often looked as if it had been superimposed in front of the stars. And in those brief moments, I knew full well that I was living the myth of Bowdoin.

Garrett Casey is a member of the Class of 2015 and a co-editor in chief of the Orient.