When Arthur McArthur Jr. graduated from Bowdoin in 1850, there was no Office of Career Planning to point him to jobs at Deloitte and L.L. Bean. His first decade after college was a whirlwind comedy of errors: he sailed off to the Gold Rush in California but almost starved in Panama, he joined a filibustering expedition to conquer Central America but washed up on a coral reef in the Caribbean, and he served as a major in the Civil War but was shot dead by a sniper in an orchard outside of Richmond, VA.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the photos captioned #bowdoinabroad on Instagram don’t tell the full story. Instagram never does; there’s no way that a filtered square can capture an entire semester. And yet I spent this past spring posting photo after photo, scrolling through cleverly captioned snapshots and trying to define and tell my own story without the context of everything I knew.
New Yorkers like to brag about how good our drinking water is, straight from the tap. And, okay, New Yorkers like to brag about a lot of things—but the drinking water really is excellent. When I left the city for Maine, though, I went straight to the salt water.
“The Fuckboy, in his current form, aims for the night, aims for the break, goals to ghost. The Softboy strings you along under loftier auspices. He is Nice yet Complicated; this isn’t just a hookup. It’s a series of such,” wrote Alan Hanson in his article “Have You Encountered the Softboy?” Lillian Eckstein ’18 read this piece aloud to me a couple of months ago with the premise, “HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ THIS?” I cannot help but assume she was implicitly commenting on my softboy past.
I have a cheap Richard Prince print on my dorm-room wall from his Untitled (Fashion) series. I downloaded the image from the internet and turned it into a poster. (I figured this would be within bounds based on Prince’s own relationship with appropriating others’ work.) I like the image because it’s simple and suggests our own complicity in consumer culture by appropriating what was originally a magazine ad.
Living at school with a disability is tough. As someone who survived a brain infection three years ago and had to relearn to read, speak and walk without falling, I know my fair share of what tough is.
Recently, my friends have stopped asking me if I’m going to drink this weekend. I can’t tell if I like it. On the one hand, I now no longer have to explain, “no, I still can’t drink—yeah I’m still feeling the symptoms of my concussion—yeah it has been about 10 months now.” On the other hand, the fact that they have stopped asking also suggests that they, like me, see no time in the near future when I might be fully recovered.