Based on the New York Times’ “Metropolitan Diaries,” the Middletown Diaries features awkward, funny, novel, or sweet anecdotes, stories, and memories that happen at Wesleyan and in Middletown. To submit to the Middletown Diaries, please email email@example.com.
So I’m in my dorm room in the first hour of my college experience and already deeply overwhelmed. I sneak a glance at my roommate’s side and mentally take note of things I still need to get: laundry detergent, a kettle to make caffeinated tea so I don’t commit homicide early in the morning, a desk organizer. Most of my bags are haphazardly thrown under my bed, and I tell myself that I’ll re-organize when I’m settled in, knowing full well that it’s a lie. All I need to do now is unpack my clothes. I make semi-awkward chitchat with my roommate, her parents, and her brother. I’m fielding questions from her dad about my potential major (spoiler alert, I have virtually no idea) and what it’s like living in Portland (Portlandia is roughly 65 percent accurate) and then I realize my predicament: I have nothing else to unpack except for underwear.
Shit. I mean what’s the protocol for this? Do I just keep unpacking, or do I pretend that I’m done and just do it later? I stop unpacking and almost instantly realize that feeling super awkward while having literally nothing to do is about a thousand times worse than feeling awkward while having something to do, even if that thing is unpacking all your underwear in front of four strangers. So that’s how I ended up making casual small talk with my roommate’s dad whilst hastily throwing lacy thongs into the very back of my drawer like they were contraband drugs.
Other orientation highlights include buying a rug from the WasteNot sale that’s slightly damp in places. Not wet, just slightly damp. Don’t worry, I’ve shoved it into the depths of my closet to be washed as soon as Amazon sends me detergent and I figure out the Da Vinci code that is working the laundry machines.
If you were here during orientation, there’s a good possibility that you witnessed Wesskunk. It was seen hanging out around Westco and on Foss, and apparently on other parts of campus during this past week.
It was brought to my attention on Saturday, when I was walking along the pathway that runs near the observatory and Westco. Although I did not actually witness the beast, the shocking warning I received from a fellow classmate was enough: “Don’t go over there, there’s a skunk!”
Although it could be easily mistaken for one of the many nocturnal e-boys from the class of 2023, Wesskunk had disappeared by the morning. If I had to guess its location at this very moment, I would say there is a significant chance that it is still hanging out in Wild Wes. And if you smell something skunky around Westco, there may be a chance that it actually could be sourced to Wesskunk, instead of…ahem.
Even though Wesskunk’s celebrity appearance was not on the schedule, it made for a good bonding moment for the class of 2023. There’s nothing like a good old musk to make people want to be friendly.
If you are walking around Westco, keep an eye out. You never know who you might meet.
Summer on campus is empty. Like, do-a-shirtless-workout-in-the-middle-of-Andrus kind of empty. (That’s not a metaphor—I saw it twice. Two different people.) And so every day, I’d leave for work at 8:23 a.m., be met with an empty and beautiful view of the fog over Foss, and get ready to start my day. While historically very much the opposite of a morning person, I found that the peacefulness of my early walks always to put me in the right mindset to spend eight hours interviewing prospective students. Things went on this way through June, July, and most of August, making me naively believe that someday I might be prepared to wake up at a reasonable hour if I ever end up employed. It got to the point that I pretty much forgot it wouldn’t last forever—that soon enough, the storm would break, and my calm mornings would be no more.
What I didn’t realize was quite how suddenly that storm would break. That from the moment I woke up, I could sense something was different. That my beautiful empty morning would devolve on an innocent Wednesday into parents going the wrong way on Wyllys, new students asking me where to go, and Orientation Leaders singing and dancing in bright red shirts.
Pros: it certainly woke me up. Cons: the weight of my last college summer coming to an end, of school and responsibilities and figuring out the rest of my life, all hit me at the same exact moment that a stressed mother nearly ran into me with her car (in my defense, I hadn’t had to look both ways for months). It was almost enough to completely throw off my day, to put me into the kind of stressed place I hadn’t been in since finals. But then I thought about how even though my college career was coming to an end, things were just beginning for all these new students—that after the summer camp that is orientation, they’ll fall in and out of love, find and abandon new passions, start to figure out their place on this campus and beyond it. It’s really sappy. I know. But after a summer spent talking about Wesleyan, thinking about it, the good and the bad, it really helped to imagine all the ground this class has yet to cover that I’ve already walked on and tripped over. And so even though my summer morning routine had come to an end, I can’t think of an interruption more appropriate.