Monday, September 8, 2008

Free Time

It's 1:08 in the afternoon and I am finishing my generous 90 minute lunch break, the first I have had since school started. It feels like I have been relaxing all afternoon. The beginning of the school year starts around mid-August, when the first few anxious students leave their teenage homes, high school crushes, and controlling parents to reinvent themselves in Montreal. At this point, everyone is on top of their game. High school grade point averages have not been tarnished by the first wave of punishing midterm marks, and new friendships and relationships feel warm and fuzzy, bereft of the reality of differences that will emerge to crush them later on. I'm certainly not trying to be cynical - I've just seen so much of it from year to year. I can spot victims early - the kid battling depression who will find the competition here too deep. The earnest small towner stuck in a residence with people from larger cities who will have trouble adapting to the endless hipsterism and arcane references to parts of Toronto, New York, and Vancouver where experiences have been shared. In reading the two local English campus newspapers, The McGill Daily and The McGill Tribune, one sees their typical faces, one midly subversive, one mildly earnest, emerging again. Revolutionary chic is again back, with a new cause célèbre" or two or three to dominate the local buzz at cafes where Che Guevara t-shirts are still free from deconstruction, and where international cuisine is embraced as long as it is free of meat. Campus life is strangely comforting - I like to see the students back in town. It reminds me of why I am here - the summer often seems devoted to staff soap opera tales of failed relationships, misbehaving kids, vacation plans gone awry, and lives mismanaged. I don't mind being surrounded by those whose vision of the world and their place in it is new. I feel there is hope for me too.

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