This place is a bubble. Of course it is. Every fall, two-thousand students leave their homes—many in affluent suburban neighborhoods outside of major cities—to head to a small town on the coast of Maine. As you cross the state border from New Hampshire to Maine, the “Welcome to Vacationland” sign greets you, and if you flew into Portland, you can find the phrase “Vacationland” stamped on the license plate of almost every car you pass on the ride from the airport to campus.
There’s nothing like walking home from a long day of classes and extracurriculars to find a dozen people crowding the thin halls of Coleman, munching on Hannaford brand potato chips and waiting for their love lives to be predicted from a random spread of tarot cards on the carpeted floors.
My older sister rarely speaks when unnecessary. Actually, Lucy rarely speaks. To be fair, she studied meditation in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Tokyo and has embarked on countless vows of silence at various points of her adolescence—one way to cope.
Last month, after a short, two-week stint visiting my family in China, it came time to return to Bowdoin, just in time for Lobster Bake. What troubled my mind wasn’t the imminent 30-hour connecting flight—my personal equivalent to being run over by a concrete roller in terms of magnitude of suffering.
I used to think my time at Bowdoin would be separated into a “before” and an “after” with the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 being the cataclysmic event. But as I sit here thinking about the last four years, I’ve realized that there is no such “great divide.” And while my life now does look different than it did during my pre-Covid first-year, perhaps that’s to be expected when the world stops.
I knew something was wrong as soon as my mom told me that we could go out to eat “wherever I wanted” after landing back home in San Francisco for spring break. If you live in an immigrant household, you can understand why this would set off alarms in my head.
In my life, Italian soccer—calcio—has always been an afterthought, only to be considered when scouting a young talent while in FIFA career mode with my brother. The golden age of Italy’s greats—and their even greater hair—was resigned to forever be an unlearned history.