An Alumnus and a Tent

29 May

Life as a college alumnus is full of adventure.

Yes, I am a college alumnus. One of many alumni.

I can’t seem to stop saying that aloud.

I just said it again. Alumnus.

My sister is now looking at me like I’m talking to myself. Which I am.

The day after I moved home, I walked into the ice cream shop where my sister works and announced, “Hi, I am an alumnus and I would like a cone.” My sister looked at me and said I sounded like a loser. So I said, again, “I’ll have one scoop of alumnus, please.” She started to look annoyed, so I made amends by asking for their most “alumnus-appropriate flavor.” (She gave me a tiny scoop of vanilla and told me to come back when I’d “accepted my truth.”)

Graduating from college is kind of like going on vacation to a remote beach island and then having to come home to your job as a clam digger in Alaska.

Just kidding. That’s dramatic.

Graduating college is definitely a transition, though.

It’s a transition because the week before graduation is a mystical period of free time, zero worries, flowing alcohol, and fun activities.

Here are examples of my primary concerns during the week leading up to graduation:

1. What kind of cheese should I get on my sandwich at the BU pub?
2. What type of beer would best complement said cheese?
3. Do cheese and beer really go together? Never mind, of course they do.
4. Should I wear a dress to that event tonight? What kind of dress does one wear to gamble at Foxwoods?
5. How should I spend the $70 I won at Foxwoods on a Titanic slot machine?
6. Wait, where is my $70?
7. Oh dear, I already spent it.
8. Do I at least have $6 with which to buy pizza tonight?
9. Yes, I do. Good economic planning, Sophie!
10. Should I hang up my cap and gown? Where did I put my cap and gown?
11. Will my dishes do themselves?
12. Should I start packing so my parents don’t have to wait around for six hours on Monday while I pack up my life and also have an emotional breakdown?
13. No.
14. Should I ask for double cheese on that sandwich?
15. Yes.

Now that I’m home, many of these questions are no longer as pressing. Cheese-related questions are always fair game, of course. But the Foxwoods money is long gone, I haven’t had pizza in a week, I’m all moved in, and the nearest pub is a local watering hole where old men watch a man named “DJ Anaconda” drunkenly perform solo karaoke…

So yes. I am transitioning.

I always told myself that I wouldn’t be one of those people who graduated college and then acted like a moody teen who couldn’t get off of the couch and who ate cereal out of an industrial-sized bowl and who threw chocolate at the TV every time a show or movie came on about youthful, reckless college kids…

Which is why I ate all of my chocolate (so there wouldn’t be enough to throw).

That reasoning is also why I’ve been taking risks and engaging in new, exciting experiences!

Today, I drank a liquefied tree (kale smoothie).

And last week, I went with my sister to get her nose stud changed to a hoop. (I almost passed out, but I managed to get two social media posts about the experience.)

Despite these other *daring* feats, I have to say that there is one experience that really tested my status as a college alumnus.

Camping. For one night.

One night of camping.

I have camped before. I spent an entire month camping in Madagascar! I went one plus weeks without showering. I rationed my Cliff bars like they were the difference between life and death. (They weren’t. They were the difference between my pre-departure weight and the weight I gained while camping. Who knew that was even possible??)

Despite all of my aforementioned experience, when my friends Selby and Deven invited me to spend a night camping with them on the Cape this weekend, I felt…unsure.

I told Selby to ask me about camping after we’d finished dinner at my grandparents’ Cape Cod house, and after I’d had a drink or twelve.

After waiting the appropriate amount of time, Selby again asked if I wanted to join the camping trip.

Yes! Yes I definitely, definitely wanted to go because yes, I adore camping and no, I’m not sure why I’d ever doubted my love for camping, and yes, I also loveee gin and tonics and was more than ready to become one with nature!

I enthusiastically announced that I would just need a moment to gather my “camping possessions” but would be ready in a jiff.

I took to my suitcase to see what would be appropriate for camping. Seeing how I’d managed to pack for a weekend in Hawaii and not a weekend in May on the Cape – flowery crop tops and denim shorts versus fleeces and sweatpants – my options were limited.

After rummaging through my sisters’ bags, I’d managed to scrounge together several top layers, all varying in thickness and purpose – a tank top, in case the tent got hot at night; a light, “camping to town transitional sweatshirt,” to be worn the next day, in case there was a breeze as I emerged from the woods and rejoined society; my CAS “Dean’s Host” sweatshirt from 2013, which I was told “looks like a high school tuba player’s sweatshirt”; and, a sensible Nantucket fleece that would both boast to my fellow campers that I am a native with extensive experience with the Cape and islands, and also double as a pillow, should my fellow campers kick me out of the tent.

“Does this outfit say, ‘I’m ready to CAAAMP?’” I asked my friends and family, who sat in the living room, waiting for me to get myself together.

Oh wait! How could I forget shoes?

I decided that flip-flops seemed too risky for camping. After all, you never know when you may encounter animal feces or a bear trap or poisonous moss. So, I instead chose my “camping sneakers,” which are bright pink and orange running shoes and that would provide much more protection against feces and traps, and also be highly visible and reflective should I get caught in a trap and need rescuing.

Feeling comfortable with my outfit, it was time to turn my attention to the “miscellaneous items” that I would –undoubtedly – need during my one night stint as a camper.

A few of these miscellaneous items included:

1. A deck of souvenir cards from Greece. (Games are important, and souvenir cards offer insight into other places and cultures.)
2. A gel pen that I stole from my roommate. (You never know when you’ll need a pen. Plus, glow-in-the-dark gel pens are handy if you get stuck in a bear trap and lose your voice from screaming and thus need to communicate via the written word.)
3. A Kind bar that I got for free at Starbucks. (There were nuts in the bar and nuts are good protein. Plus, a granola bar could easily fit through the slots of a bear trap, should you get stuck in one and find yourself on the precipice of starvation.)
4. Toe socks. (Should you decide to risk it with the flip-flops, toe socks are flip-flop friendly and will protect you from the cold and other unforeseen elements.)

“Does anyone have a small satchel?” I inquired. I needed something in which to place all of my miscellaneous items!

“Here, take this,” my grandmother said, as she handed me what was most likely the largest paper Panera bag to ever exist.

With all of my miscellaneous items in a giant paper bag, I was more prepared than ever. I grabbed my Cat’s Meow sleeping bag (yes, my North Face sleeping bag is called the “Cat’s Meow”) and my friends and sister and I left for the great outdoors.

The “great outdoors” turned out to be a plot of grassy land, surrounded by full-time RV campers and a group of rowdy country music enthusiasts. Our tent was next to what appeared to be (and was, hopefully) an abandoned RV, and the flushing toilets were a good distance away. Luckily, there was the whir of the highway to drown out the sounds of a mysterious scream we kept hearing.

As Deven so kindly pointed out, the campground would have been a “playground” for murderers.

(And I was worried about bear traps…)

Despite the conditions, and despite the fact that there weren’t any pizza delivery venues nearby (we checked), we managed to have a great time!

I’m not going to call myself a camping expert, but I’m also not going to completely remove myself from the spectrum of camping experts. (It’s a wide spectrum.)

Besides the fact that I accidentally peed too close to the tent and nearly caused a Noah’s Arc situation, I was warm in all of my layers, I managed to avoid any and all bear traps, and I even got my hands dirty with some manual labor (when I wasn’t taking this photo, of course):


If you ever wondered how many alumni it takes to fold up a tent, the answer is three.

Here’s to a summer of experiences fit for an alumnus.


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