It feels as if I’d never left. I’ve slipped back into old habits, or formed new ones that felt perfectly natural to form, such as preferring to spend my free time on the campuses at which I have no classes on that given day. Pond Hill feels like a dream, or something I never actually made it to in the first place. But then it also feels like something I’m approaching – I’m back where I was in March, anticipating the experience – except that I’ve got some sort of ‘plan’ in place this time around. Even so, there’s a surreality surrounding the whole idea of Pond Hill.
I hope it’s a good sign that I didn’t have any sort of why-am-I-still-in-school crisis until now, at the beginning of my fourth year, and even so, it was slight. It lasted for a total of about 48 hours, spaced out over the course of a week and a half. It may not actually bear explaining, but why else would I be blogging?
The first day of school, August 27th, began less than 24 hours after having arrived safely home. My first class was choir practice, and that was, of course, an excellent class to have first on your first day of school, but I was more than a little sad, because Meaghan isn’t with us this semester, and I never really developed any sort of friendship with anyone else. The only other person that I really talked to was Rachel, and although we’ve had lunch together, she’s still all the way in the altos.
My next class, the Anthropology of Food, wasn’t for another 3.5 hours. In retrospect, it was a fairly harmless lecture, but I suppose I was hypersensitive to the comments on the deceptiveness and general lack of trustworthiness in the food industry due to being fresh out of such amazing experiences as Pond Hill and Daveed’s. I was also extremely offended by the statement made that people generally associate anything to do with food – planting it, growing it, harvesting it, preparing it, cleaning up after it – with drudgery. How could one not be offended after just having spent 10 weeks with people who are passionate about every aspect of all those things? and yes, including clean-up. I think pig buckets and labeled recycling containers all over the farm and including in the intern cabin speak of some level of healthy enthusiasm regarding cleanliness.
Lisa Sanders wasn’t kidding when she told us to expect to get out late every class. My last class on that first Monday was Creating Foods, and I have officially established with Ms. Lisa that I am crazy. Basically, she wanted to know why each of us was in the program and what we intended to do with what we’d learned. I had to answer first and I honestly could have said something much more constructive if I hadn’t blanked on the spot, but what she got out of me and what she held on to and repeated back to me was, “Let me get this straight. You’re getting this degree for the fun of it?” Epic fail on my part, yeah? I totally did not mean for it to come off quite that way, but there you go. We got out at about 21:30 on that first night.
Tuesday was better. The crisis mood had faded by morning. I really did miss my fellow culinologists-in-training, and although I can’t recall anything of true substance that we may have discussed in that first week, the familiarity of their company was comforting in and of itself. Things seemed to get better… I ran into Steve on his way into class as I was on my way out, spent half an hour catching up with Aaron before lunch… and then I got a 75 on our pop assessment quiz in Food Chem III. Not that it was a recorded grade or anything – we took it, then went over it, graded it ourselves and kept it for the notes – but it wasn’t an encouraging beginning to a 15-week course. Somehow, a combination of frustration and getting out of class much earlier than I should have according to the syllabus led me to Mt. Adams.
My heart sank a little when I realized it wasn’t Matt that I was looking at through the door, and I hesitated as I walked in, looking around a little wildly for a familiar face. Thank God I found one =) Garry showed me around the new place. They couldn’t pull the carpet up, so the new wooden flooring is actually over the old carpet. The general dining room and bar setup hasn’t changed much, but the place feels more open because of the lighter color of the floor. The spiral staircase is hidden behind a new wall and door, so inconspicuous that if you didn’t know that it was there, you wouldn’t suppose that it could be found and wouldn’t go looking for it. That made me a little sad. Hot side hasn’t changed, really, but the pastry area is completely different. I’m not sure if the freezer is still there, but if it is, it’s hidden under and behind prep tables which now fill that entire corner. It looks much more organized and feels much less crowded.
Jason put a rain check on the hug that Garry asked if he wasn’t going to give me. Not that he was incredibly busy, but just as he pleased. It was amusing. He looks older in all black… I commented on it afterwards and he asked if it wasn’t just the glasses, but I honestly think it’s the black, and that the glasses haven’t anything to do with it.
On Wednesday night, I was able to catch a decent amount of the last Theology on Tap session. That was the highlight of the week, of course. I didn’t mean to stay so late with having to be up at 5:30 the next morning, but somehow it happened that we – Caitlyn, Calvin, Chris, Lizzie, Marv, and myself – were among the last persons to leave the restaurant. I suppose I might have guessed that it would turn out that way =) I was graced with multiple semi-crazed clambering-over-chairs-to-reach-each-other hugs that Sisters in Christ will give; my entrance caused a slight disturbance for which I was sorry and slightly embarrassed, but the speaker took it in stride and suggested that everyone hug me. Oops xP
We went to St. Louis for the holiday weekend, and that was where the crisis really happened. It was necessary to sit and talk things over with Michelle and then Mother to get my nerves back in order. I was completely out of sorts until the last thing Mum said – that maybe I just needed to relax and not think about it too much for the time being. I took that to heart.
I am now in my third week of my fourth year, in my first semester, the new length of which I was dreading. Things have fallen into place, slowly but surely since the holiday weekend. I’m back on the MCI Events Team working for Ruth Ann. FRESH and HomeLife start up next week, both of to which I am committed for the next few years at least. I’ve cantored thrice since being back, twice at Vespers and once at Mass. Dress rehearsals and concerts are back on my calendar. I’ve been locking my doors and rolling my windows up. I have phone service all the time again, and am constantly texting and calling friends, setting up lunch and dinner and coffee dates. With regards to the crisis, it has passed. I’m at peace again with school, and with my current vocation as a student. I tolerate Food Chem, semi-enjoy Food Anthropology and NPD, mostly enjoy Creating Foods, and really do love choir and Chem/Tech of Flavors.
And finally, I’m going back to Pond Hill next summer. Michigan is to be continued =) Life is good.