I spent a good chunk of my senior year trying to fight against Carleton’s plans to change some of the traditions and spaces that I love. However, I am not here to talk about the college’s efforts to slowly prune itself of parts that I held dear and hope that you did too. It is certainly sad to realize that life at Carleton will look significantly different next year from what I experienced. But regardless, I have come to believe that beautiful new moments and traditions come out of the legacy of the past. This is hard to reconcile with, but it is also a comfort as I reminisce on the past four years of my life.
The pandemic has left a gaping hole between my memories of Carleton and the memories of those who didn’t get to experience the pre-pandemic times. In an ideal world, I would have taken more initiative to bridge that gap and get to know more people outside my bubble. The issues that we (or maybe you more so) are facing to keep traditions like Rotblatt alive and true to its original form are worth fighting for, but also the aim of these events is to enjoy the community that they foster. The strength of these traditions, whether they are big affairs like Sproncert or more routine, like Porch Wednesdays, is within the communities that find a sense of camaraderie through these intricate events. We have these traditions because we value the communities we build around them.
An ’86 alum was really sad to see the up for sale sign outside Ragstock. I don’t think I ever set foot in that store after that one time freshman fall. I felt bad for him, but I didn’t feel personally affected by Ragstock closing. Today, I found out that the Quarterback Club will not serve breakfast ever again after this week. My non-senior friends didn’t feel a sense of loss, but they went with me one last time anyway. I remember spending many Tuesday mornings in the QBC booths last spring surrounded by some of my closest friends and most of
Northfield’s 60+ population. The memory that I have of this place will simply not be shared by most of Carleton next year. Chaney and old Farm, QBC and Archer House will eventually become archived memories of the past. Yet, the sense of community, love and care I, and many generations before me, felt in these spaces and traditions will exist for a long time.
I remember the first time I felt an overwhelming sense of attachment to the Contented Cow. It was a week out from when most Carleton students received their second vaccine, and my housemates and I decided to celebrate at The Cow. It was like a fever dream to see it overrun by Carleton students. Within minutes, I was hugging and kissing people and passing by crowds and crowds of friends who I had only seen from a distance or gone on distanced Arb walks with for the past two years. Everyone was so elated that we decided to show up at The Cow every Thursday just to commemorate, or at least experience, that feeling of finding community again. We did show up on other days of the week too, but it was just never the same. I would like to believe that’s how Thursday Cow came to be. Rotblatt may officially look a little different this year, and more than half of Carleton has never even experienced it before. However, the generational memory that exists within these passed down traditions will mend itself to be whatever suits the needs and desires of the Carleton community, one way or another.
A friend who graduated last year told me it is possible to have faith in something with the complete knowledge that it will fall apart. I think what my class and those before us created together will only become a figment of Carleton’s generational memory. Though the student life that I cherished is unique to me, the care and love I felt for my communities during my time will continue in forms that may be unknown to me.