BY MIA PENNEKAMP ’20
1. Take the class. Email the professor. Wear the backless silk top. Go to the party. Take the road trip. Run to the stop to catch the last bus. Listen to the lecturer. Walk around the lake. Get lost in the museum. Hike the mountain and eat ice cream at the top. Kiss them. Laugh hysterically on your dorm room floor. These are the things you’ll remember.
2. It’s not sunny year round in Western Massachusetts. You’ll spend your 19th birthday alone. You’ll fail a test. You’ll get acne. A creepy stranger will press two fingers to your lips at a party and say “shhhh.” You’ll curse the cold. You’ll screw up. You’ll sob in the stairwell on Halloween wearing a bunny costume, covered in fake blood (“roadkill”). You won’t get the job or the part or the internship. Someone will say something mean behind your back. You’ll get a yeast infection or two or three. Things will fall apart. You will pick up the pieces with tired, humble hands and it will make you better.
3. Going home will be somewhat foreign. Your mom will move. Your dad will get married. Your sister will grow up. Your friends will have different hair, piercings and ideas. You’ll find some constants: palm trees and Nana’s omelettes.
4. When you meet the beautiful boy in September and something inside of you trusts him implicitly, go with it. You might end up singing in his dorm room that night. He will pull over on the side of the road and get out of the car just to take in the view. He will be brilliant, vulnerable and kind. You will do the 20 minute drive from your campus to his one million times and one day you’ll look over at him from the passenger seat and know you love him. You’ll spend the year with his arms around you. He will strip you down in a bathroom in your hometown, and you will leave your issues in a pile on the floor with your clothes.
5. Don’t worry about the pounds you gain or shed. The perfect outfit. Your thin hair. Close Instagram and walk outside. Smile at strangers. Read a book. Sit by the lake and count your blessings.
6. You might be initially unsure about the girl who lives two floors below you in Buckland with the wild hair. She likes math. She is blunt and unapologetic. She is a Republican. She is also graceful and goofy. She is thoughtful and insightful. You will watch the entirety of Sex and the City in her twin sized bed. You will run in the pouring rain together on the streets of Manhattan in pursuit of the perfect graduation dress. You’ll drive around in lace bras with her seventh grade birthday playlist blaring through the speakers. You’ll share fears, dreams, advice and clothes. You’ll watch her run with one shoe around a huge bonfire — a blur of red hair, flames and laughter. You’ll become lifelong friends.
7. You will change quickly and silently. One day you will be sitting in class and realize you are better than the person you used to be.