I'll be honest--when I bought this scroll in Disney World a couple of years ago, it was only because I thought it looked pretty sweet hanging in the small Epcot shop that was selling them. I'm a sucker for Asian calligraphy, and this was about as authentically Japanese as I could hope to find, so it was an easy decision to buy it. I only learned what the character meant when I brought it up to the petite, kimono wearing clerk, who politely informed me it was the kanji character for "calm." And as I look at this scroll tonight, hanging above my new bed in my new room at Anderson Hall, I realize that today was all about the four letter word it represented.
I awoke this morning knowing that I still needed to finish packing my things for the trip to Caldwell. With the aid of my loving mother, I packed a suitcase, loaded several heavy items into the truck we were borrowing from my father, stuffed any stray boxes into my Sebring, and prepared to make my leave. My mother and I had hoped to make it on campus around 11:00 AM so I could get settled into my new space as early as we could manage, and so there was no time for quick tempers and dragging feet. To stick to the schedule, my mother and I needed to remain calm and efficient.
I wasn't even out the door before I began feeling homesick. I could barely squeek out a goodbye to my dog without tearing up. After spending three months in the chihuahua's company, I had grown accustomed to his playful demeanor and inquisitive eyes. When he looked up at me with those same eyes, I nearly lost my composure, knowing I wouldn't be seeing him on such a regular basis anymore. Still, I remained calm and kept my emotions in check. I knew I'd be seeing him again, sooner rather than later (I'm going to be back in Meridian for a little bit on Saturday to run some various errands, so I can drop by my house and say hi).
Once we got to campus, things were generally running smoothly--as I was checking into Anderson I had the pleasure of encountering about half of the cool people I'm sharing my living space with that readily volunteered to aid my mother and I in transporting my things to my new room. I lucked out during the Room Draw last year; I was pretty low on the waiting list, so I was expecting nothing better than a double with a random roommate in some random hall. But as I was waiting for my scheduled sign-up time, I got a call from a friend who needed one more person to fill up the third floor "suite" setting, in which 9 residents share a communal living space, complete with our own lounge area and bathroom, as well as a door that could close us off from the rest of the rooms on the floor, if we so chose. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and ended up in a snazzy closet single. It's a pretty Sweet Suite, one which I'm certain I'll tell you all more about soon.
Because I was getting so much unexpected help moving my heavy objects up several flights of stairs, I had the opportunity to observe the rest of the campus. I had heard from several sources that move-in day for returning students was both on Monday and Tuesday, so I was expecting a campus atmosphere that was more about hustle and bustle. But no, the campus was still as calm as it was when I picked up my textbooks the week prior. Outside of some international students milling around and a woman walking a couple of dogs, I saw very few people moving about. Then I realized this was easily explained, because the incoming freshman class of 2016 was up in McCall as part of their First-Year Experience, along with many of their RAs and First Year Mentors. I was basically moving in during the calm before the freshman storm. I know I'm going to be seeing several new faces tomorrow night at the club fair, where I'll be helping run a couple of booths for two new clubs I'll likely write about in more detail in the near future. I'm excited to see things from a more experienced perspective--I may have a year of campus living over these freshman, but I can still acutely feel the emotions I felt as a freshman myself. I'm sure I'll see in their faces the same things I was experiencing just a year ago.
Anyway, this calm just made things easier on my mother and I. Putting together my room took much less time than we anticipated. We only experienced two minor snags--one was a mistake involving my student ID card not letting me into locked Anderson entrances that was easily rectified, and the other was forgetting to pick up a small room fan during our run to the nearby Wal-Mart. Still, we managed to remain calm through the adversity and get everything handled way ahead of schedule. I gave my mother a hug and kiss goodbye, and spent the remainder of my day catching up with several friends, including many of my brothers in Delta Tau Delta.
But now it's late. My suitemates and I are all in our rooms, and the area around me is completely calm. I anticipate that today has all just been one big calm before the perfect storm of the rest of the year. But I have no fear entering this storm. I embrace it.
Clayton is a sophomore creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.