On letting go of Reed
April 19, 2019
My friend Nathan and I knew we wanted to live in Reed House early in our first year. We loved the romance of the fire escapes, the neighborhood feeling and all our friends who lived there or who had lived there. When House decisions were released last year, I read my email on my phone under the table in my art history class. I can still remember the precise feeling of jubilance that came from that email.
That spring contains my sweetest Bowdoin memories. One day I woke up and realized the snow was all but gone, the grass was peeking up over the ground, the trees were suddenly bursting; the world was damp and thrumming and green. It was definitively a new chapter, different from the snowy one before it, and in it Reed played a central role. We were meeting our new housemates, wondering if these were the people who would carry us through our next three years. Walking into the house itself took on new meaning, and the sense of belonging at Reed events was thrilling.
When Nathan and I moved into our room this fall, it felt like the culmination of nearly a year of dreaming. I remember the sticky end of August, when it was so hot and humid that none of my posters or postcards would stick to the wall, how desolate our room looked before one of our friends with a car finally drove us to get carpets. Nathan and I decorated our room, having planned it out for nearly a year: framed photos, so many instruments, lamps instead of the overhead lighting. We knew it was impermanent, that we’d have to pack it all up at the end of the year, but I’m not sure how much that really registered with us then.
Spring this year came slowly, less suddenly and with more melancholy. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad as I watched my first-year friends receive their House decision emails last week. It felt, and still feels like my time at Reed is over. The fantasies for what the House can do are now limited and we have to confront what is and isn’t possible instead of assuming that everything, at some point, will be possible.
What have we actually achieved here? Have we done any of the things we spent late nights fantasizing about after we were admitted last year? Are we as tight-knit as Old Reed was? Suddenly our experience has been thrown into relief, compared to those before us and the potential of those who will succeed us.
Maybe this is a good thing. Perhaps we need to quite literally move to change and grow here. Who would I be if I lived in West Hall for four years? College Houses have always been ephemeral, but I had never thought about how to let them go. After all, we spend the better part of two years at Bowdoin thinking about them.
I could never really picture packing up my room in Reed because thus far, Reed has been almost synonymous with my Bowdoin experience. It’s a testament to how well the College House system works to integrate us socially. Yet I can’t help but ask, where do we go from here? My friends describe junior year as the “lost year,” and my senior friends still call sophomore year their “peak.” It’s all a little tongue in cheek, but it also somehow rings true. All I know is I still don’t want to imagine the bare walls of my little second floor room on Boody Street.
Sarisha Kurup is a member of the Class of 2021.
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