A Letter to Freshman May

Dear Freshman May,

It’s been a long time. I’ve been walking the BYU campus this past week, shopping for books, wandering the library, going to work. You’ve crossed my mind a lot.

It’s freshmen orientation time right now, and it has taken so much mental and physical effort not to burst into laughter every time I pass a group of wide-eyed 18-year-olds. Instead I suppress a mocking smile, and so I traverse campus looking smug. All those beautiful and nauseatingly eager freshmen, if they’re aware enough to notice me, might wonder who the short girl is with a seemingly permanent smirk on her face. That would be me.

What was it like, Freshman May? Did you ever act the way some of these kids do? Did you ask the same questions, play the same pranks, have the same goals?

You were smart enough to be admitted all those years ago. You should be proud of yourself.

You lived in Deseret Towers, U-Hall. Officially, Ballard Hall. Have you heard what they did to Deseret Towers? They demolished them a few years back and they’ve rebuilt – they’re rebuilding – them, except they’re not going to call them Deseret Towers. I wish I could tell you how and why I know that, but I can’t. But that’s the news.

You’re facebook friends with a lot of your freshmen friends, Freshman May. It’s so great that all of you are able to keep in touch.

I missed the freshmen deluge last year. I officially stepped onto the campus proper on the first day of class, and all the students milling around seemed perfectly normal.

Within the first few weeks of being Freshman May, you wrote an email to your high school friends. Remember Cougarnet, Freshman May? You told them that you had gotten engaged to a young man named Jordan Rivers. You said that you had made eye contact with him across the Marriott Center.

You never went ice blocking.

You hiked the Y at midnight. One time.

You took calculus in the Jesse Knight Humanities Building; you went to church in the law building. The planetarium section of the Eyring Science Center was under construction but you sneaked up there anyway with some new friends, and it was cool.

You passed the Smith Family Living Center all the time. You might not have been Freshman May when they began calling that building the SFLC, or “syphilis.”

The JKHB is now the JKB, and campus has a fancy, new humanities building, which I love and where I have most of my classes.

The ESC is also very sturdy and feels new, and it hardly resembles the place where you spent hours working on physics labs. Your FRESHMAN year. Physics 121 and 122, really? Freshman May, how did you even do that? What kind of energetic ridiculous idealist were you?

The SFLC. Does. Not. Exist. It’s as if whatever parts of your life that had anything to do with that building never happened.

So many more changes in curricula and technology and everything else, it seems.

Freshmen swarm this campus right now. Like some cheery scourge. They flood my computer labs and wander into alcoves I’d claimed for myself.

I’m excited for them though, just like I was excited for you. You had your whole life to figure out. You met people who’d be your friends for the rest of your life. You were righteous and eager, but you were also SO SO SO YOUNG, and you thought you knew everything, and I know you have stories about being taken down a few notches which is so important to growing up.

You’ve had quite the journey, Freshman May. I have nearly doubled your life, which seems so hard to believe. You’re there, I’m here. Can’t you feel the distance getting close?

Watching this year’s freshmen herds, moving about like worker ants, carrying books that seem to be twice their weight, getting lost and in my way and too scared to ask questions or too intent on their focused wandering, I’m just grateful you were a freshman only once.

That’s all anyone needs.

Class starts on Monday.

Thanks for … everything.

May

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