October 9, 2002: On the Campus
By John Lurz 03
Illustration: Ron Barrett
My first few days on campus this year were spent, as usual, moving in. The sticky summer heat made every load of books, clothes, and furniture that much heavier and every flight of stairs up to the third floor that much longer.
I am always surprised at the amount of stuff that I have, as if the boxes have reproduced themselves over the summer. Its not only me; everyone all over campus is faced with the apparently procreative nature of their belongings. Piling up outside entryway doors, loads of corrugated cardboard seem to have become an additional ornament to the collegiate-gothic style. Our pointed arches, soaring spires, and leaded windows drown in the veritable sea of flattened boxes, provoking fear that the solid tan color of the boxes will soon completely overtake the weathered gray stone.
Sweaty students, accompanied by sweaty parents, choke the hallways and staircases of these buildings, and their mutual restrained frustration with each other shows in the grimaces, the snippy questions, and the frequent eye rolls. Do you really want your desk there? one father asked his son. Yes, Dad. Dont touch it. I want it right there. Its my room.
Moving in and moving out, for that matter are quintessential and integral parts of a Princeton experience. There arent many schools where more than 95 percent of students live on campus all four years, and so most students on other campuses experience the long lines of tightly packed minivans and SUVs only once or twice. Here at Princeton, however, we get them every spring and fall.
In terms of stress, moving is a big one. I think its because we want to have it all done, so that were settled instantly and have time for other things, for friends and life itself. We want to be efficient with our time. And the mechanics of moving are stressful how to configure the room, how to fit all of the clothes into the small closet, where to place the bar.
Yet theres a camaraderie in the mass move-in. I felt a kinship when I passed a father and son duo who were carrying an old brown and yellow plaid couch up the stairs; my own father and I had just finished getting my futon into my room. Lugging big boxes and unwieldy furniture will never be fun, but having the girl who lives down the hall hold the door for me because I did the same for her just a few minutes before makes it that much better. Its like being a part of a sports team during a very intense and grueling workout: Youre dying but its almost fun because you know that everyone else is too. Youre all in it together.
And I think that this communality is one of the things I like best about Princeton. Princeton as a whole, like moving in, is sometimes a difficult, exasperating, and grueling experience. Late nights in Firestone during Reading Period, nervous hours spent talking about eating club bicker, long afternoons of unpacking boxes: Everyone goes through it and, somehow, knowing that helps. We commiserate, and we understand each other. This is what makes
the Princeton experience singular and special.
As I survey my room, with boxes half-unpacked, clothes in a pile waiting to be put away, books for the semester still in U-Store bags, I try to remind myself of this. Itll be a task to get this room together, but everyone is doing the same thing. Maybe, though, Ill throw efficiency out my third-floor window and just go and hang out with my friends.
John Lurz 03 is an English major from Baltimore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Campus Online: Kristin Roper 02 reflects on the events surrounding the anniversary of September 11, 2001.