Student blog: vacation alone
Content Disclaimer: brief mentions and discussions about food, mention of Thanksgiving roots
I want to start this post by saying that I am not particularly a fan of the holidays. I don’t really feel connected to them and never really liked them. I mean, my first Halloween was to visit a grand total of three houses before letting my mom know that I was done. Why would I go to houses of strangers who had bad candy when we could just go to the store and buy the candy I actually wanted? Despite this, I still kind of wished I could enjoy most vacations for what they are. I want to feel the love and joy around the holiday season or give my all for Halloween. Certainly, I like the novelty of it all.
However, the main reason we celebrate the majority of them isn’t exactly to be admired, especially when it comes to American Thanksgiving. I never really waited for this vacation because 1) I dislike food in general and 2) I hate traditional Thanksgiving food even more than the food I tolerate. My disdain for American Thanksgiving was further heightened when I learned of the “genocide of millions of Indigenous people, the theft of Indigenous lands and the relentless assault on Indigenous culture” that coincided with the “beginning “of the Thanksgiving Celebration (UAINE). I think it’s important for white and non-native Americans to remember these facts when we sit down with family and friends for dinner on the third Thursday in November each year to “thank”.
Back “home”, in what the colonizers called Portland, Oregon, I got as far away from American Thanksgiving as possible. This land rests on the sites of traditional villages and summer camps of hundreds of native tribes along the Columbia (Wimal) and Willamette (Whilamut) rivers who were forcibly evicted from their homes. These tribes include, but are not limited to the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tualatin, Kalapya, Molalla, and Bands of the Chinook. There it is much easier to just not take advantage of what I would rather be dead traditions. On the other hand, in my college town that the colonizers call Boston, Massachusetts, the land of the “First Thanksgiving” or, more importantly, the traditional lands stolen from the Wampanoag and Massachusset peoples, it is much more difficult to get away from it all. holidays.
It’s not just the fact that I’m in the “first Thanksgiving” zone, nor the turkeys that roam the town in the days leading up to the holidays (I’m not exaggerating; there are literally hordes of roaming the campus and surrounding neighborhood). Instead, it’s the feeling of seclusion from a vacation break in a college town. Just the week before the vacation, I realized that most of my friends wouldn’t be in Boston for the five-day vacation. Two days before the official vacation and my first vacation alone, I felt like the entire Boston University student body had gone home for Thanksgiving. I think there was only one other student upstairs in my dorm, the security guards at the front doors weren’t even in their place, and the whole campus looked like a ghost town. I thought I prepared for this, but I’m not sure if anyone can prepare for these feelings. The best I can do is share my experience to prepare someone else if they find themselves alone on campus while on vacation.
While the break technically hasn’t started at this point, it was actually one of the worst days. My classes went as normally as they could be with less than half of the students present (there was a communication problem and several people returned home before the official start of the holidays, while several others were sick of what BU students call the “BU plague”). We presented our finals for voice and speech and worked on the finals for comedy as best we could. Despite smaller classes than usual, nothing happened. That is, not until I returned to my dorm alone in the dark as my phone rang with messages in my cohort’s group chat saying how we had had a great semester. The semester is not over. We still have three acting lessons, then about five lessons for the basic lessons. Then, sitting alone in the dining room, everything looked very different. Usually, you can’t escape the clattering of plastic dishes or the screams of hundreds of 18-year-old college students. This Tuesday at 5:30 am, there were only about thirty people in the dining room, or even. It was like a void both outside and inside. The inner emptiness did not disappear that night. Generally, I am very comfortable sleeping alone in a room. My roommate comes home every weekend, so I’m especially used to being isolated in my dorm two days a week (and I often yearn for that weekly isolation). For some reason that night I had the worst feeling of loneliness and loneliness. Maybe it was the looming vacation or the empty campus or all of the above, but I couldn’t escape the feeling.
By the time I woke up on Wednesday morning, the feeling of emptiness had been dismissed as I focused on my errands before everything closed that afternoon. I took my required weekly COVID test, shopped for groceries, treated myself to food from my favorite local herbal cafe (Life Alive) because the mess halls would be closed for most of the day. break, I visited a local independent bookstore for Christmas shopping, and grabbed two dollar store billboards for Christmas arts and crafts gifts I had planned for the weekend . I saw eight turkeys roaming campus during this time (third day in a row), hoping I had enough food for a few days, wasting my time with the freedom of not attending class and feeling fine. That is, until I returned to my dorm and realized it was only 12:15 pm. Fortunately, I had the arts and crafts and homework to do. I had also plugged in my Nintendo Switch for the first time since arriving at college and was focusing on trying to finally finish Pokemon Shield while watching countless YouTube and TV shows including a video of two. hours of Mike’s Mic on seasons one through three of Pretty Little Liars and one half and the first two episodes of Hawk Eye on Disney +. Safe to say I was ready to settle in for the holidays and the long weekend.
I usually don’t wake up on vacation and instantly recognize it as such. It usually takes a few callbacks. This party was very different. The moment I opened my eyes I knew this was one of my least favorite vacations. It made me physically uncomfortable. In an effort to dissociate myself from it all, I immediately stood up and reviewed the first two episodes of Hawk Eye, because I had not fully processed them the day before. The aforementioned cohort group chat exploded with “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Thank you all” messages that I rolled my eyes reluctantly – and, admittedly, with guilt. My plans for the day were: have breakfast, review Hawk Eye, do the arts and crafts projects I had planned, clean my dorm room because she is dusty, go on a zoom call with my sister and mom, don’t forget to eat, talk to a freshman who is auditioning, play more games because it was fun, work on writing an article for the introduction to aesthetics and dramatic literature, tidy up my creative presentation for Adaptation and Remediation, and complete my dissertation for the end-of-semester artistic conferences. At the end of the day, I’ve done about half of it, which is amazing.
Friday and Saturday:
Honestly, Thursday, Friday and Saturday all seemed to merge into one. I woke up, had my breakfast, I did some crafts, I worked on writing this blog, I remembered to eat food (which doesn’t normally happen, so i’m very proud of myself), played pokemon go (since saturday i’m about to enter gym 8, the dragon-type gym), watched the first five episodes of The sex life of the students on HBO Max, reviewed Ginny and Georgia on Netflix for the fourth time despite hating it, started watching season 3 of Dickinson on Apple TV + … everything seemed so normal. It was just like a normal weekend locked up alone in my dorm. The only times when things felt That Tuesday night in the dining room was different, like a real vacation alone, and my first thought as I opened my eyes on Thursday morning.
Overall my vacation was not as lonely as I thought it would be. I was worried about nothing. Keeping busy, finally doing the arts and crafts projects that I have wanted to do for months, and remembering to talk to real people are all very helpful. I also highly recommend doing arts and crafts while on vacation. It really is a wonderful experience which I hope will become my new holiday tradition. Of course my dorm is even messier than it used to be, but I’m so excited to clean everything up. I would show you all the crafts I did, but it would ruin my mom’s Christmas present; )
If you’re still around after my long rambling on vacation distaste, American Thanksgiving roots, and my vacation experience alone, thank you. Hope you had a wonderful vacation whether you spent it with your loved ones or alone.