No. 9: The Bartley’s Smell

Harvard, please be mine. Love, Teddy.

They say love is a funny thing. It’s impossible to explain, yet impossibly easy to recognize. From the outside it seems irrational, unreasonable, even crazy, but when you’re in it, love somehow makes perfect sense. Some people believe in love at first sight, but most don’t even see it coming. Love quietly grows within you, filling you up until one day you wake up and something just feels different. Nothing in particular has changed, but somehow, everything has changed. Your stomach twists up in knots, your heart sits a little lighter in your chest. The world looks brighter, the sky bluer. And even though you’ve never felt like this before, you immediately understand what all the poets and singers were writing and singing about. I know, it all sounds cliché, but what can I say? It’s the only way to describe how I feel about Harvard.

Objectively, I probably shouldn’t love this place so much. On paper, there are so many reasons to be disappointed with Harvard: decrepit housing, failed concerts, distant professors, lacking social space, Harvard-Yale restrictions, fucking winter in Cambridge, the list goes on.

But they say that love conquers all, and they’re right. Because in spite of everything to complain about, there are a thousand small reasons to love this place. I love how everyone in Quincy chills in the courtyard when it’s warm out, and that my roommates and I always wake up at exactly 11:30 on Sunday mornings for brunch. I love the idealists who work tirelessly and thanklessly to improve life at Harvard, and the kids cheering at the football games who refuse to believe we have no spirit. I love the taste of a late-night super burrito, and the smell of Bartley’s as I walk to class. I love running my hand along the white lines in the Yard, and I love every single Japanese tourist who rubs John Harvard’s foot.

More than anything, though, I love this place because of my friends. I was having a tough time trying to articulate what exactly it is about them I love, until one of them said, “If you want to express yourself, try getting drunk. That helped me tonight, I put back a few and let it all out. Felt pretty good.” And then it was perfectly clear. These are the kids I can always count on for solid advice, solicited or otherwise. They are my inspiration and my role models. I’ve laughed with them, cried with them, shared in triumph and defeat. With them I’ve made unforgettable memories and tried to piece together hazier ones; I’ve claimed to have slept with each and all of their respective mothers. They are my family here in Cambridge, and they make Harvard my home.

I can’t put my finger on the day I fell in love with Harvard, but I can tell that the feeling is stronger now than ever before. In part it’s because I took last semester abroad and realized while I was away just how much I missed being here. Mostly, though, it’s because this is senior year, and I’m realizing that in June I’ll have to leave this place and all of its magic behind. But, of course, they say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Theodore E. Chestnut ’06, a senior class marshal and former Undergraduate Council representative, is a fixture on FM’s As It Were page for a reason (the reason is love).