Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Reminiscing over the past four years

By Katie McKenna

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Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian

Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian

When I hopped out of my parents’ car and moved into a charming dorm room on the third floor of Butterfield, it seemed as if May 2014 were a fictional date in the impossibly far future.

Think about the day you moved into college and chances are you can remember yours as well as I remember mine. My little brother roamed the halls with strangers I would soon call friends as he placed my blue blanket atop his head and announced, “Hello, I’m Marge Simpson.” My dad swore like a sailor trying to move my bed up a few hinges.

We were off to a good start.

Franklin Dining Commons provided me the first of countless pasta noodles as I walked in its endless circles, only trying to figure out which side had the dish return, a mistake I admittedly continue to make four years later.

Later I’d roam our overwhelming but still perfectly organized University of Massachusetts campus to find Bartlett Hall, the only building on campus that is old and quirky enough to host its equally old and quirky journalism and English students – not any older in age, but in our souls and interests. I like to think we appreciate the essence of aging and the meaning of time, books, stories and histories.

Besides that one journalism class with Mary Carey, my freshman year at UMass consisted of general education courses that everyone told me I’d ace because of how easy they were to complete. But I struggled with them, compiling the lowest GPA I’d have in my time at UMass. I took college writing with a man who wore a bandana around his forehead and, after reading a story about my childhood, commented, “WOW, jaded much?”

Upon making new friends, people sometimes told me, “You’re harsh,” and other times told me, “You’re sweet.” Comments like, “You act like a kid” and, “You act like an elderly person” have never been so equally distributed to one person until my time at UMass.

The rest of my freshman year followed a similar pattern of constant discovery, and although it was likely – almost definitely – one of the more embarrassing years of my life, it marked the start of a new reality.

During the next couple years, I had a series of adventures, whether it was living on the 24-hour-quiet floor in Brooks my sophomore year, or what seemed like a 24-hour-party-floor in Ireland the following, it was the college roller coaster I’d always dreamed of.  The sounds on my college soundtrack consist of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” scratching on a record player, blaring beats off the city streets of Southwest, coffee grinders in Rao’s, elevator dings in the library and I’ll be damned if I didn’t hear one more “stop requested” from the PVTA.

I’m no longer in that charming room on the third floor of Butterfield, no longer taking those general education classes and very rarely in Franklin, though I do like to pay it a visit if only for the nostalgic value it brings. I’m no longer eating pasta for every meal, only most of them. I no longer need a map to get around, unless I am somewhere north of the Campus Center in that totally foreign, science section of campus. My freshman year flip phone has morphed into a phone I sometimes believe to be smarter than I am.

Bartlett Hall remains, though not for long, as it’s rumored to be taken down after the end of this year, waiting just for me to stay goodbye. Butterfield sits at the very top of everything, at the highest point on campus, the oldest and first UMass dormitory holding its place, and my memories, as well as ever. And although Franklin has made its own advances in updates and renovations, it still feels like home.

Some friendships have stayed, and the ones that weren’t meant to be have passed. I guess that’s a big lesson in the ever-changing world of college. We have to trust in the art of letting things go, because like a great song, or an interesting read, the best things will find a way of sticking around.

It was some time ago in the past four years, when Bob Dylan preached to me, “Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do.” If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past four years at UMass, it’s that everything passes, and everything changes.

Bartlett will turn to dust. Technology will fade, friends will move to far off places, but your heart, whether it’s left on the third floor of Butterfield or somewhere north of the Campus Center, will always be yours.
Katie McKenna is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Reminiscing over the past four years”

  1. Mike on April 4th, 2014 8:43 am

    If you only knew what Butterfield was really like, prior to Spring 2001. Epic shit. Some of the best memories of my life.

  2. Luke O'Dwyer on April 5th, 2014 5:53 am

    Nice article about the strangest place I’ve ever lived (1991).
    I miss it.
    Room 115 – corner room, just up the steps on the left .

    and a beautiful photo too.

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