On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.
A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.
It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.
The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.
– The opening passage of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Friends and loved ones, you know I like books, and right now you have the perfect book in mind for a gift. I’m looking forward to reading it. But don’t give me the book unless it would look impressive on a shelf (and very few books qualify). Instead, give me an Amazon gift card – or cash – and tell me what book you’re giving me. I will buy it for the Kindle and read it there.
Of course, if you do give me the actual printed book, I will still love you and be thankful and read it. But later on, when I’m moving apartments, I will lightly curse you because you’ve contributed to the amount of heavy stuff I have to pack up and transport, when it was totally avoidable.
Take a break from that Ludacris song to read this. I’m going to tell you what the next ten years hold for you. I’ve got your attention? Good!
While you’re sitting pretty right now with first semester classes, you’ll find out the next five semesters aren’t any walk in park. Example: you’re going to take, suffer through, and then have to retake a class known as Intermediate Orgo. Luckily, you won’t go through these struggles alone. Some of the classmates going into these battles alongside you will end up becoming friends whom you have long after those classes, and college, are finished.
Next year, Mom will ask you to take passport photos and you’ll hate how you look like a goob in the picture. Let it go. That passport’s gonna accompany you to Canada and Mexico–okay okay, starting out slowly–and Japan, the Caribbean, Sweden, Scotland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany!!!
You know how you were annoyed by English class in high school? Well, you’ll take some literature and writing classes soon and end up becoming a huge reader and a bit of a writer, too. Don’t worry about how you’ll take your books with you when you travel. In about 6 years, something called a “Kindle” will be invented–it’s like an iPod for books–and the parents will give you one as a present when you finish your PhD. That’s right, you’ll be Dr. Saad! I’m not telling you what you get the PhD in, because it’ll be a fun surprise for you. Right now, you’ve never even heard of the subject. I’ll say this much: you’ll go to an SEC school, get to watch the Gators in person many times, and become pretty good at science.
You won’t have your first kiss this year (sorry, dude) but you’ll come to meet, date, love–and be loved by–some remarkable women. Keep your eyes open to their good habits. You’ll grow and become a better person for it.