Sayonara to the sunken seat

Where I found a home away from home

Photo+courtesy+of+Max+Schwartz

Photo courtesy of Max Schwartz

By Max Schwartz, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

Reminiscing on my three years at the University of Massachusetts has been a bittersweet trek down memory lane. The memories here feel much fresher than the ones I usually reminisce over. In fact, it wasn’t originally in my books to be leaving UMass this early.

Escaping lily-white southern Connecticut was the first of many goals I had upon graduating from high school in 2019. Other eager aspirations of mine included achieving Instagram fame and getting a boyfriend (still vying for both). Going to a university as large and distant as UMass meant I could redefine myself and reshape the person I’d grown to become. The immature, bridge-burning, self-centered Max that sauntered the halls of Wilton High School hoped to become a refined, friend-making, generous Max striding through doorways in the Integrated Learning Center.

It’s cliche but I really grew into that coveted version of Max here. I don’t think the ideal college experience is defined by the ability to attain your dream job or finding a sense of community as much as it is embracing the dynamic nature of concluding adolescence. I found my farewell to adolescence approached quicker than most, peaking when I came out to my parents in 2014. Now, eight years later, I can safely say I’m still gay.

I wouldn’t still be at UMass if it weren’t for this funky group of writers we call the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. During freshman year I would rush from rowing practice in Totman Gym to the basement of the Campus Center for weekly Op/Ed meetings. Always running a few minutes late, I found my place in the sunken corner seat of the most rundown couch you’ve ever seen. Dilapidation aside, that Op/Ed couch felt like home for those sacred 30-minute meetings.

Most of the classes I attended were unsurprisingly average. Good professors here and there were met with equally good classmates to make some of the most painstaking hours glide by. The only thing I liked more than recognizing somebody in my classes was knowing nobody. The feeling of anonymity UMass guarantees becomes a boon the longer you spend seeing the same faces. Trust me, you will see the same five people at Blue Wall every day until you graduate. It makes no sense, it shouldn’t happen, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

I’ll keep it short because I hate reading long articles.

The privilege to attend college, let alone a top university, is something I’ll forever be grateful for. The opportunities, connections and bonds cannot be overstated – they are truly invaluable characteristics of a traditional college experience. Who’s to say if I would’ve matured the same way if I decided to work straight out of high school? Would the person writing this article be the same if he never found solace in the sunken corner of that dilapidated couch?

If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from my time at UMass, it’s that asking rhetorical questions is a lazy narrative technique and to never end your papers with a quote.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Max Schwartz was an Assistant Op/Ed Editor who can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Maxwschwartz.