When I arrived in Gambier for the first time, I figured that it would immediately feel like home. Though I was never able to visit as a prospective student, I made up for that by obsessively reading student blogs, taking the video tour dozens of times and leafing through informational pamphlets about Kenyon until they fell apart. My high school notebooks are riddled with doodles of Middle Path and the spire of Old Kenyon. So, given how familiar all of these virtual Kenyons had become to me, I couldn’t imagine that the real thing would feel any different.
As it turns out, the real Kenyon was infinitely more complex than these virtual Kenyons could have ever been. Over the past four years, I have discovered a multitude of corners and crannies and details of campus that I never knew existed. Now I can’t imagine a Kenyon without them! These are the things I will miss when I graduate in May.
Of course, the people of Kenyon — friends, professors, co-workers, community members — are the most integral part of what makes Kenyon home for me, and I will miss them more than anything when I leave the Hill. Thank goodness for the internet! I can keep in touch with everyone through email and social media and video calls; I can take the Kenyon community with me wherever I go. Unfortunately, I can’t do the same with all of the little details that have defined campus for me.
I can’t Zoom with the cat who lives at the post office and greets me every time I go to check my mail, nor can I listen over the phone for the quiet that coats campus early on Sunday mornings. I could never receive an email that captures the way Whit’s frozen custard tastes on a sunny Gambier afternoon. There’s no simulating the glow of the Higley greenhouse that lulls me to sleep every night, or the joy I feel when I see the crocuses that burst out of the lawn in front of the library to remind me that spring is coming to the Hill.
Of all of these small things that make Kenyon home for me, my favorite is the crack in the pavement outside of Mather Hall. I lived in Mather during my first year, and I tripped on that crack every time I left my dorm during my first week here. It made me irrationally angry. Each time I tripped, it seemed to say to me, You don’t really belong here, do you? This isn’t your home. I would walk away fuming, but also feeling silly about how upset it made me. Weeks passed, and I realized that it had been a long time since I had tripped: I had unconsciously learned to step over the crack. Now every time I pass by Mather, I chuckle to myself as I step over the crack in the pavement and remember how frustrated it made me, and it reminds me that I am home, after all.
Paige Bullock ’21 is a psychology major from Salem, Oregon.