Arriving in Fort Collins just before the start of the semester, I found the streets as blank as my Facebook friends’ away messages.
Being on campus during the winter breaks can be a different world, where waking up at 5:30 a.m. doesn’t change anything compared to a 9 a.m. wake up call in the search for good campus parking and walking the campus sidewalks can feel more like a lonely stroll.
Even in the first quiet weeks of January, as the streets of Fort Collins grew busier, the campus seemed to be immune.
Most of my days started early with a hot shower and turning to Pandora on the computer, the sky still dark as I looked over the list of projects, assignments, upcoming exams and homework, already making the list for the coming semester.
I walked downstairs, made some fair-trade tea (adding far more sugar than is ever recommended), grabbed the skateboard and walked west to watch the sunrise (yep, west — story of my life).
I finished my tea and crammed the cup into the worn pocket of my second favorite cargos and started skating. The cold morning air made my eyes water as I strained to see the tiny pebbles in the road that would bring the 52 mm wheels to an abrupt stop and send me on an unwanted flight.
It feels good to be back and beyond the grasp of Turkish Security Police (another story for another time).
It’s been two or three months since I last went for a skate due to travels. It felt new enough to activate adrenal glands and release a short burst of energy, but the feeling was still all too familiar — the sound of the tired bearings in the quiet morning was soothing, the feel of the street through my $15 Target specials like an old friend and then there was the off-beat rhythm of “kick, push, glide, kick, push, glide,” matching only the off-beat rhythm of my own soul — the timing only snow and skate seem to understand …
The assignments can wait. The projects whose relevance can sometimes feel only skin deep are just models for the reality of life — all wrong, but sometimes helpful. The exams will come and go and the papers will get graded one way or another.
For now, the empty streets are waiting to be invaded by the cars and trucks that have become our country’s symbol of the love-hate relationship.
Now that the semester has started, suddenly the campus isn’t nearly as lonely. Skating and biking on campus means sharing the concrete with hundreds of students and staff — and, of course, keeping an eye out for campus police.
The five-minute hop across campus now seems to take twice as long. Good thin Colorado air — its good to be back, again isn’t it?
But is anyone else already counting down to summer? Or at least spring break. I know I am: 16 weeks left!
A Tuesday/Thursday class schedule means 32 class days to go, minus two for spring break. That’s only a month’s worth of classes, half that until spring break!
The more time I spend on campuses, the more I look forward to the breaks. Not so much for the break from classes or any kind of serious agoraphobia, but rather for the peaceful serenity.
As the semester is now officially underway and we’re in possession of course syllabi, it is my goal this semester to keep mental sanity by dedicating this column to staying focused on surviving to see the next break.
Granted a Tuesday/Thursday course schedule isn’t exactly a call to arms, but we all do what we have to do to make it through, right?
Phoenix Mourning-Star is an environmental health graduate student. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.