With the end nigh, I find myself taking the long way home, unnecessarily driving or more accurately crawling up Chapel Drive. Soaking it up as it were. Enjoying the flood of years past washing to the front of my mind.
I’m not alone. Walking to blue zone yesterday, I ran into a block of my friends leaving just having paid tribute to Tailgate with key and can. They were strolling through the Indiana limestone arches visiting their favorite spots on campus. Their next stop: Bella Union, a place that makes living in Edens infinitely better (Few can keep Alpine).
For me, Bella is central to sophomore year. Early morning coffee, afternoon tea, late night espresso. It met all my stimulant-related needs. It was my go to for half-heartedly doing work. So naturally I spent most of my “study” time on that fourth floor of the tower. And by most I mean nearly all. I used the abundant life and foot traffic in Bella to procrastinate until closing. Midnight didn’t signify the start of an intense productivity, however. It meant the beginnings of virtual distraction and that my laptop stayed plugged in ‘til the wee hours of the morning.
Every time I went home during college my neighbor told me to find the balance. That is, find the healthy medium between being social and studious. Maybe I did or maybe I just tell myself that to not be upset that I stayed up until six in the morning more times than I care to remember. Even if I am lying to myself to live a synthetic happiness, my current reflection points to a concrete benefit from the “balance” I chose at Duke, which gives me solace.
While sitting in Bella at four in the morning, long after close, I couldn’t focus on my work. The mind wanders for want of diversion from exhaustion and misery. I questioned my choices that brought me exhaustion and blood shot eyes. Why hadn’t I done my work earlier? I usually realized or at least told myself it was because I was enjoying my life – talking to friends and trolling around. Of course I would then imagine the future years here and beyond. Going abroad, coming back, opening a bagel shop. The mind wanders without sleep. Though I often hated myself for being up so late, I found great happiness in my projected possibilities and reflections of the has-beens.
So I confess that my best thinking happened not in class or with my nose in the books but while procrastinating. Think about the conversations, the real talk, you’ve had with people long since the sun’s set. That’s where I learned the most in my time here. 4am in Bella – my greatest thinking happened while on the edge of dreaming.
Last week at WNS a fellow senior shared with me a confession of her own. She told her mother that she’s moving to Australia without any direction. But hey, minimum wage is $19/hr. She’ll be fine. Yet I could hear a level of guilt in her voice telling me that she thought her parents would be upset for “throwing away” her expensive schooling. She told them that she’s grateful for their sacrifice and that she will use this amazing education after she figures things out down under. If you ask me, she’s wrong. In uprooting, she is putting that education to use right now, more so than most of us. What is the point of pulling all-nighters writing papers if we can’t make that intellectual dexterity work for us?
My friend’s moving to have an extended 4am procrastination session of self-discovery. She is taking an extended ride up Chapel Drive. She is going to live on the edge of dreaming.