At 4:42 P.M., an hour and forty-two minutes after the promised "around 3 P.M.," I got my FPOP email.
"Congratulations! You have been accepted to the Freshman Leadership Program as your Freshman Pre-Orientation Program (FPOP)."
So now I know one thing for sure about the fall: I have to arrive on campus by 5 P.M. on August 22. Two months to go. 61 days. Then we’ll go to the woods of New Hampshire for the program. (Of all places; I thought I wouldn’t be going back to that state for a while. I have mixed thoughts about visiting campus in the next school year. I want to see my friends who are still there, but I don’t quite want to go back. I want some distance.) Apparently, it’s “life-changing.” It makes you question your beliefs. You laugh, you cry, you develop lasting friendships.
I want that all to be true. I really do. I’m trying not to go into this comparing it all to Exeter, but I can’t help it. Exeter was three years of laughing, crying, questioning my beliefs, and developing relationships with people. I went in politically apathetic; I came out very nearly a flaming liberal, but tending towards being fiscally conservative-ish-maybe, and fiercely conservative about Exeter. I didn’t know I’d be that hard-nose opposing the removal of Saturday classes and the shortening of the daily schedule. I went in a shy thirteen-year-old, a follower. Now I’m sixteen and off to college, and I’ve become an outspoken, opinionated person. I’ve grown more in the last three years than in any other three-year period of my life. I find myself wondering if five days in a leadership program can live up to that. But it shouldn’t have to. I’ll try my hardest to keep an open mind.
I really want to wear my Exeter class ring to college. I don’t want to flaunt it; I just want to be able to look at it and remember what Exeter helped me accomplish. It is unmistakably part of my identity.
My mother says she doesn’t want my classmates to assume I’m a rich, nose-up, snotty prep-school snob. I definitely don’t want that either, but maybe I’ll just wear the ring and ditch the rest of the Exeter gear (blanket, jacket, fleece) for at least the first semester, so that people can get to know me first. I haven’t gotten a single comment about my ring yet from anyone, so maybe it’s unobtrusive enough.
I guess I didn’t really have that problem at Exeter. Most people didn’t talk about money, and no one really knew the names of any good/privileged/rich middle schools, so we couldn’t judge based on anyone’s previous school. I think most of us were public school kids. I was, besides a brief and interesting interlude as a non-Catholic at Catholic school my freshman year.
I still remember driving onto campus on September 3, 2008. I remember getting my ID/yearbook picture taken by a crappy little digital camera (horrendously, this would be a yearly occurrence). I remember finding Bancroft Hall, the one with the pink flamingoes. I remember walking into my room, right next to the Common Room. My roommate wasn’t there, but she’d already unpacked. She left me the side of the room with the windows, all three of them. My mom and I tried figuring out what she look like from the pictures on her desk. She was with some of the same people in most of them, so we couldn’t tell. I remember finding Joy, my acquaintance from MathPath, and her roommate Tomi. We went to P.O. We came out. Tomi directed us to the right…somewhat erroneously: we ended up at a boy’s dorm at the far north end of campus. We lived in one of the dorms furthest south.
Joy and Tomi are two of my closest friends. I wouldn’t even call my roommate my friend. Just a fellow Exonian.