Stories including Rose Parlor

Florida, Farewell

All the living rooms in the Town Houses (THs) look about the same: one window, linoleum flooring, and-for some reason I don’t think I’ll ever understand-no lighting.

In an attempt to set our TH apart, my housemates and I called our living room “Florida” this year. Our striped orange couch, purple carpet, faux-glass patio table purchased at an estate sale, and indoor plants gave it this sort of tropical living facility vibe that made us feel not like seniors as much as senior citizens.

Which is, of course, pretty funny considering we’re all 21 and 22 years old. But anyone who has ever taken a poli-sci class can tell you that the spaces we occupy alter the activities we do in them and thus our identities. So it’s not totally impossible to believe that we’ve spent the past year acting a little like old people-excuse, me-active adults.

I’ve spent a good deal of time at Vassar doing the kinds of things that your grandpa does when he hangs out in his plastic patio furniture shouting about what everyone else is doing wrong. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for the Humor & Satire section and editing the Features section of The Miscellany News – tasks that have required that I poke fun at everyone and everything at Vassar and take on a sort of weird public critic persona. At times I’ve felt a little like grandpa sitting there in his orthopedic shoes shouting insults from the corner when all I really wanted to do was make everyone laugh.

And sometimes I felt like grandma too. I wrote the Humor and Satire section’s “Weekly Calendar,” a long-standing tradition that dates back to the much-missed-but-not-forgotten Miscellany News Backpage, and includes a daily themed nod to the historic-if poorly attended-tea in the Rose Parlor. In fact, I’ve never actually been to tea in the Rose Parlor for all the hours I’ve spent making fun of campus culture through it. Regardless, thinking so much about tea in the Rose has sometimes made me wonder whether although I physically appear 21, I might actually be a 70-year-old dandy sippin’ on Earl Grey in the Rose à la Benjamin Button.

The trick, I think, is to remember that we never actually have lived like AARP members. Vassar is a place where we’ve all tried on different ages for size. We’ve talked as if we’re in our mid-40s in an afternoon seminar one moment, and behaved with the maturity level of toddlers at TH parties only hours later. Then we’ve felt like arthritic seniors again the morning after.

And now we’re leaving the retirement community, ditching the faux glass table aesthetic, and won’t return for another 50 years. We’re retiring from retirement. Or something.

Everyone’s been bellyaching about how hard it is to sum up four years at Vassar especially as we’re clinging to it the way Leo clung to that piece of wood in Titanic, but I have to admit that I can sum up my Vassar education: I’ve learned to be open here. Vassar and the friends and professors I’ve had here have helped me to see why things are interesting and to see why they’re funny.

I’m so grateful to Vassar because I’m curious and open, and I know it’s because I went here. The secret, I’ve learned, to being a critic, is not only to be-hopefully-interesting, but interested. Which brings me to the point of this retrospective: The great thing about not actually being an old dog is that we can still learn new tricks.

So until the day I actually join the AARP, goodbye “Florida,” goodbye patio furniture, goodbye Vassar and goodbye tea in the Rose! I’m ready to come out of retirement, and I’m ready to try out my new tricks.

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