Part of a Greater Canon: Making a Guest Appearance

By Indiana Jones ‘14

“I tell myself I bear witness.” -Rust Cohle, True Detective

The show must go on. Whether a raucous adventure, a masterful farce, or an epic never-ending, Colby, like every other alma mater, marches forward—into known knowns, into unknown unknowns. Every student, from COOT to Senior Week, lives their own personal drama—hundreds of different shows on myriad channels, all with their own cast, tone, and conflict. Everyone’s the star of their own show—at least, for the four seasons that they’re on campus. But what happens after the show ends? Diploma in hand, all those series finales cutting to black—so many shows wrapping for the last time, but the alumni are still characters. They still exist. And they can return… not as leads, not as supporting actors—alas, those days are done. No, the role of the visiting alumni is that of the guest star.

This past Doghead, I found myself featuring as one such guest star. What better time to make an appearance, right? Now, it’s hard to process if you’re still currently enrolled, but after you’ve left Colby as a graduating senior, there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to come back—as irrational as that might sound. A part of you acknowledges the ending your own time as Colby protagonist had, and fears that any return could undercut that ending—nobody wants an ignominious return, especially should you seem hat-in-hand, browbeaten by the post-graduate purgatory. But the prospect of another Doghead overrides any such reservation. Truly, with all the campus cavorting and focused solely on revelry, no single weekend permits one to reabsorb so much of Colby culture concentrated into one glorious, madcap affair. And consequently, there is perhaps no single weekend that can reveal more about what college becomes from the outside looking in.

I won’t lie. Wandering the campus for the first time since graduation inspires a whole range of emotions. Though you might think it’d be the places —the Spa, the Miller steps, the lobby of Dana—the geography on its own stirs nothing in the heart of this alumnus. Rather, the postgraduate perspective reveals something many of us already know: what makes Colby special is the people. Walking among so many you remember, seeing them go about their own day-to-day story, while most of them don’t notice your presence… you watch people manning a table in Pulver, worrying about a midterm, rushing to a class with minutes to spare, cheering wildly with Solo cup in hand upraised… you tell yourself that this all part of the fact that your now-concluded time at Colby was just one of so many more just now beginning, and so many yet to come.

You find yourself wanting to shake your head at many things, whether they be changes you weren’t ready to see, or concerns you find yourself feeling far beyond. When you enter the new Miller library: wow, the set designers really pulled out all the stops on this one. When you overhear a heated debate about who is going to make the booze run: come on guys, is that expired Bouncy House IPA really worth it? When you find yourself markedly more sober than the crowd on the Miller steps, as dawn’s rosy fingers creep on the horizon, as the triumphant snap selfies and pass around cigars, as silly string and roman candles soar through the air: I came to visit for this?

In those moments of weakness, a shallow mentality gnaws at the psyche. Buzzfeed, that most diabolical of cancers upon the digital realm, would have you skim through 12 Ways You Are Just So Totally Over College Right Now and chuckle in your superiority at stolen gifs with snarky captions. Now, more than ever, you realize that college is over, your show is done, and you will never be anything more than a guest star from now on. How easy would it be to disguise that freshly—opened wound with a salve of shallow cynicism?

And then…then you remember all the faces that do light up to see you again for the first time in ages. The memories, more sweet-than-bitter, that come rushing back when you run your fingers along the door handle of your old senior suite. The truths, as rich as the pints of Red on the table, shared with freshman and sophomore friends (juniors and seniors now, but you’ll never quite get used to thinking of them that way) over a cozy booth in Mainely’s.

That’s when you realize that it’s all the natural order of things. The one-time underclassmen have stepped up to the plate—taking leading roles, taking responsibility, delivering better dialogue, forging their own epics. To visit as an alumni is to be a guest star—and that’s perfectly fine. You’re a part of a greater canon now. For every heart and mind you touched, that’s someone’s story that you had a part in, a speaking role, a memorable scene. People are fleeting. Places are too, eventually. All shows reach a finale, but stories… stories never really end. Immortality may seem hard, but if you poured your spirit into Colby, you can be damn sure that Colby makes it easy.

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