Columns, Opinion

BERICK: September psychosis

For some of us, it is a tick that never goes away. But for most,?it’s first month dementia and it strikes annually and without discretion or grace, like a tropical hurricane, or puberty. It is that constant uncertainty that induces every student at Boston University to become nervous, paranoid and completely unpredictable. It is the Back-to-School Twitch ‘- and it is not advertised in magazines and does not go well with plaid.?

The social scientists will tell you that the interconnectedness of our generation is unprecedented ‘- making summer vacation not quite the exile it once was. This, however, has not diminished the anxiety and surprise some of us feel being back at school and faced with 32,000 of our closest friends. To returning students, and even to freshmen, it has become evident that we do not have a campus. We have discovered this in spite of the tour speeches given by the business-casual clones that can only work backwards for the Office of Admissions.’ In city planning terms, the Boston University campus is cut by the two biggest and best blockades, a river and a highway ‘- not exactly ideal. This should make gathering difficult, but let us congratulate ourselves, resourceful young people that we are, we manage anyway. The College of Arts and Sciences students smoke on the steps of CAS ‘- a perfect time to pause and chat. The College of Fine Arts students smoke in front of CFA, the College of General Stores students smoke in front of CGS and the engineering students by all accounts don’t smoke. Yet at any of these fiery intersections, it is possible to see a knot of girls throwing their cigarette-free arms around each other. The boys may shake hands or touch each other’s upper arms, might hug depending on what is socially acceptable that week. All this will go on with seeming enthusiasm, gasps of pleasure and generic questions asked at full volume:

‘HOW WAS YOUR SUMMER?’

‘OH MY GOD HOW ARE YOU?’

‘HEY MAN WHAT’S UP?’, etc.

‘ Upon closer observation, however, the answers seem to be not at all important.

Watch closely and you will see as soon as the first time in three months overtures are made both the interrogator and the interviewee will loose interest ‘- sort of. The conversation may go on for many minutes, but Megan is definitely looking over your shoulder as you talk. Fortunately, this is fine; you are looking over Megan’s shoulder. You are both turning around mid-sentence, losing crucial words and appearing severely over-caffeinated. In fact, you have scarcely looked anyone in the eye since you came within the shadow of Warren Towers. It’s not disrespect, it’s just an absolute certainty that someone else you need to talk to is going to walk by, and despite the four easy ways you have of contacting everyone you know, the person you are looking for is not so simple to catch. You have even subconsciously employed the sophisticated shoe-to-street move, swinging your gaze from your own toes to the footwear of passersby. You are looking for that friend you forgot about till August. Someone whom you can’t just text. It’s that guy who has such a good bike. It’s that girl who always looked cute even though she was eating in Warren (it’s probably just the fluorescents). Or maybe you are just hoping that although this person is engaging and even familiar there must ‘- must ‘- be someone at this school you are still destined to meet.?

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ My neck was sore the first two weeks of school. This could, of course, be due to any number of factors: moving pains, the weight of new books and new stresses, meningitis, H1N1. But I’m pretty sure it was the Twitch. I got dizzy in Marsh plaza. I found myself doing 360-degree turns outside of Barnes & Noble even though there is no reason to take in that much of Kenmore Square.?

‘ ‘ ‘ Now that it is almost October, most of us have survived. You are resigned to the fact that these are the people you know and if you want to meet more you’ll have to go to a crowded Allston party just like everybody else. Call it blind optimism or maybe morbid dissatisfaction; I tend to Twitch all year. I am familiar with the great chronic symptoms of a massive case. I nod like an addict at the library, lifting my eyes again and again from the article about schizophrenia. I stare irreverently past countless professors, watching the students in the hall during class. My head is never still at Espresso Royale Caf’eacute;. So consider later this semester when your inbox is full of ways to diagnose your own influenza-like illness, that the first aches, while fairly distracting, could be merely a social disease ‘-‘ although isolation in Danielsen Hall is still recommended.?

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