I have really been enjoying my time here at Dickinson so far, and do even more so since my last semester here has started. But a couple of days ago, I got an impression that made me sad and has kept me thinking about it since.
That night, I was visiting two friends in their apartment. We watched a movie together with a handful of people and since everyone was still in good mood and in discussion, the two girls invited everyone over to their apartment for a round of cards. I hadn’t been to their place before and did not know what I should expect to see, except for a place like any other on campus.
But when I finally stood in their living room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The walls were covered with a blue layer of dye that had been rubbed on, pretty much to the height where a person’s backside comes to touch the wall when leaning against is. The cream-white sofa did not look as if too many people had sat on it over time; however, its cover had brown edges and stains all over, as if it had been exposed to frequent rainfall all summer. The floor was slightly wet everywhere, and I doubt that it was from our shoes, having just come in from outside. The cherry on top that caught my eye was the crack in the wall right in front of me. Part of the drywall separating the kitchen from the living room had actually been smashed in with what must have been quite some energy, like say, a person kicking or falling against it violently.
“What happened here?” I asked the two girls, and I assumed correctly that this was not the usual appearance of the place. “A roommate threw a party in here the other night,” one of the girls explained, somewhat ashamed. “None of this had been here before. The apartment had been renovated just before we moved in last summer.”
This was impressive. I mean, parties can be intense sometimes and leave the host with quite some stuff to clean up the next day. But leaving a whole apartment messed up in such a way that it becomes a problem for facilities to deal with? Seriously, folks?
In the aftermath of this sight I tried to get my thoughts and feelings straight about this. Why was it constantly on my mind? Then I realized: I felt strangely ashamed about this. On the one hand, us college kids want to be part of the real grown-up’s world; we want to have responsibilities like them. There are other people our age who are running their own little store, maybe even paying one or two employees or raising a kid. And maybe they don’t even have the educational privileges we enjoy. How about Mike from high school, who started his own bike workshop, taking evening classes on book-keeping along the way?
And then, on the other hand, there still seems to be some among us who successfully manage to keep behaving like immature children, not knowing where to put their superfluous energy at the end of the day. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having fun and fooling around. Adults do that, too. But causing headaches for others out of mere boredom and mindlessness is just sad (no need to mention that it also does not exactly scream responsibility). Instead, we could call Mike next time we’re back in our hometown and ask if we could help out in his workshop, just to see what it is like. And whatever conclusion we draw from that experience, one thing is for sure: at the end of that day, we won’t have any energy left to squander.