Firm flower, new attitude
What a winter
What a good time to
Dare to lay down when magic is found
And a cute little world for us to see
- New Attitude, Babe Rainbow
“You’re just living, man... you’re... just there in that moment, in that special place in time. Maybe when I get back, I can write a book about my travels, you know, about getting out of this sick society. SOCIETY! SOCIETY, MAN! SOCIETY! SOCIETY! You know, SOCIETY! Cause you know what I don’t understand, I don’t understand why people, why every fucking person is so bad to one each other, so fucking often. It doesn’t make sense to me. Judgement, control, all that the whole spectrum…”
– Alexander Supertramp, Into the Wild
“The Buddha walked away, and his look and half-smile imprinted on Siddhartha’s memory forever. I have never seen a man look and smile, sit and walk like that, he thought. I, also, would like to look and smile, sit and walk like that, so free, so worthy, so restrained, so candid, so childlike and mysterious. A man only looks and walks like that when he has conquered his Self. I will also conquer my Self.”
- Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
We are nothing, yet we are everything… take that in for a moment. If it still doesn’t make sense after a few moments, it’s fine—I still don’t quite understand it myself.
As I’m sure I am not alone in this sentiment, I am reeling, trying to find the words to calm this restless mind during these trying times. Not much of it makes sense. Why? Nobody can put an answer to it, there is no answer—yet, throughout the day, people look to the media for the answers with ensuing feelings of fear, anxiety, a distrust to follow, and pointed fingers. Blame it on CHINA! No, blame it on Trump and his shitty response!!
I’ll be the first to admit that at first, all this overwhelmed me. On March 13, I was supposed to board a plane for the first time, fly out to Arizona with my closest compadres, and meet up with a friend who had been living out there. The stage was set for me to finally embark on what seemed like such a big milestone in my life. After that, we were supposed to come back to campus and enjoy what was left in the classroom and outside with all my homies by my side, marching to the beat and sound of our own drum, nestled cozy in a5. Eating, drinking and being merry—as Dave Matthews would say.
But this anxiety didn’t stem from my existential crisis of not being able to enjoy a $2 PBR in the crowded basement of Scorps, no. Or the fact that I no longer would be driving the 50 minutes four days a week to sit in a classroom. Or even worse, no more Tuesday nights spent with the most creative people on this campus.
Rather, for the first time in four years, I didn’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. I had complete control over the time in my day. No answering to anyone, no work, no assignments, no phone calls. It all stopped, right then and there. And I went into shock—and the depression that I managed to find my way out of in the fall came knocking.
This time I didn’t answer. I kept Jim Croce’s words, “ain’t nobody seen a rainbow, until he had the rain,” close and the thought that tomorrow certainly had to be a brighter day. The only issue is that the days are starting to melt together, leaving all of us to question every morning, “what day is it, again?”
Ever since I got to school, I’ve had this longing desire to change; to strip all that once was. When I arrived on campus nearly four years ago, I was a clean-cut, straight edge kid not knowing how much I had to learn about myself and the world around me. My existence to that point had been very comfortable and change was never something that I embraced; rather, I dismissed it.
I thought that running away from my hometown of Atkinson would bring me peace of mind, would give me a new perspective, something to shake everything that once was. That I needed to find a new home: Durham? California? I kept telling everyone that I wanted to go out West, needed to, actually. I hadn’t even been on a plane, how the fuck would I know that California is the right place for me?
Yet, what I didn’t realize then and what I realize now after sitting in self-isolation for nearly two months is that home can be anywhere, that cultivating the peace within myself has to happen no matter where I go.
Like my dear childhood friend Aven told me, “it isn’t about finding the right cave, rather, it is about learning how to make everywhere the cave.” She told me to love and to always tell the truth, that if I can do those two things, then I too can make anyplace home, whether I am in Durham, Atkinson, or California.
But what’s funny about this all is not that I am having this world-shattering realization during this time. It’s that I found my cave up in Durham and I hadn’t even realized it until this very moment. This magazine, the newsroom, the people that make up this community; I carved out this perfect little cave, and in all this time, I hadn’t even realized.
I made this cave out of an idea, an attempt to pull myself from the belly of depression and a lack of direction. When sophomore year presented me the challenge of working five days a week to pay tuition, an hour commute both ways to campus, and classes that stripped any bit of soul and creativity out of me, I found myself stumbling through the door on Thursday nights around 6 p.m. after my day of classes in full tears trying to reason to my mother why I thought that dropping out would be the best course of action. I had no money. No direction. No passion. And all the excitement from freshman year wore off when things got real.
It was February of 2018. I was painting rooms for friends and family for money, barely scraping the $1,200 mark I needed every first of the month for tuition. I was late on a payment, with UNH breathing down my neck threatening to take away everything I’d worked for at this point with the snap of their fingers. And Blake Wasson, once Editor-in-Chief of this magazine who I’d previously met the weekend prior at a party, walked up to me in Hamilton Smith Hall and told me to come to a Main Street Magazine meeting.
“What the fuck is Main Street?” is the first thing that came to mind, but he told me I could get some of my pictures published or anything I wanted for that matter. I was skeptical, but instead of running straight to A-lot to my car after my last class, I stuck around and found my way into the newsroom that Tuesday night.
It wasn’t a perfect, one-size-fits-all feel at first though; I never went back to a meeting that year actually. Rather, I would text Blake a story idea, something that had been on my mind, something that would never be accepted in the literature-based courses I was taking, where creativity and one’s voice gets stripped for MLA format and thesis statements.
After being published twice, I returned to campus junior year and took it upon myself to become more involved, asking to join the editorial staff in the first meeting of the new year. And as they say, the rest is history.
With Blake set to graduate in the coming months and the issues surrounding the magazine at the time, that fall semester was all over the place and the uncertainty of this publication grew larger. Blake left me with something special—a vision of his that he wasn’t able to bring to life because of conundrums and distractions out of his control. And he trusted that I’d be able to bring this vision to life. I wasn’t sure if I could, but with little to no certainty, I jumped and didn’t look back. Finally, I was escaping the death grip of a comfortable life and seeing what exactly might come out of doing.
Out of it, this community was born, a place where creative people can express themselves freely, without judgement. A place where vulnerability and honesty are harbored. A place where no matter who was there, new faces or old, it always felt like home. This magazine saved me. It gave me that direction and so much passionate expression I was longing for as a sophomore. And, even better, I shared these experiences with so many people that I get to call forever friends. Further proving Christopher McCandless’s final words of, “happiness is only real when shared.”
This time spent alone at home has given me an opportunity to really sit with all that is happening right now. It has provided me the opportunity to embrace things like reading, listening to albums, a night spent by the fire. Four years later I have embraced this idea that we are nothing, yet everything. We are just a small piece of this larger existence, that things happen for a reason, and that if you aren’t careful, you might just get caught up in it all and not even realize what’s happening before your eyes. “Slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast,” we sing with Jack Johnson yet never take a moment to look up and admire the beauty of everything. Without creative expression, life becomes mundane and we lose sense of what’s important.
College was fun but it was hard, far more challenging than I ever anticipated. And once again, at the end of this four-year evolution, I stand before a time of uncertainty, of another chapter. This time, no expectations. No pressure. Just living, in the moment. I said it before, but I’ll use at it as my parting words: “Take the risk to be alive and express what you truly are. You never know, something beautiful might just come out of turning the fucking page.”
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. This magazine and the connections I made through my four years are ones I will cherish for a lifetime. I am grateful for all the professors, advisors, and faculty members who believed in my ideas and voice. To my friends in a5, thank you for letting the denim couch be my bed so many nights and being there through my highs and my lows. The boys at coe who have never questioned the changes I’ve made and are still by my side to this day. The bromigos for keeping the roots strong. My family and girlfriend for not letting me drop out and making sure that I know they believe in me.
And to the people who believed in me and my vision for this magazine. Who embraced the very same things that I wanted to manifest. Together we did it. My time here is over.
As always, with love,