When We’re Over the Hill

As the junior parents leave town, one dreamer realizes the Class of 2006 isn’t far from middle age.

Last week, as hordes of middle-aged men and women descended on the campus for Junior Parents Weekend, searching for Boylston Hall and Henrietta’s Table and the meaning of our college lives, I had a troubling—no, a horrifying—thought.

We are going to be that age.

Granted, we’re not going to get there for another 34 years, give or take, but it’s not the immediacy of the event that scares me. It’s the startling realization that we’re actually not too far from being adults—whatever that ambiguous word really means.

In about a year, we’re going to graduate, move miles away from our best friends, and abandon the generous grill chefs who deliver omelets to our breakfast tables. We will move on to a world of jobs, taxes, spouses, health insurance, family vacations to Disney World, cardiologists, and other such grown-up preoccupations.

“We” means the current juniors, the Class of 2006, the group of high school seniors to graduate in the first palindrome of the 21st century. We are going to be the second class to spend four years here under University President Lawrence H. Summers, and we are likely not the last.

But, more specifically, to me, “we” means my roommates. These are the girls—the women?—that I will see grow into the adults that I describe below.

Totally immersed in academia, Inna I. Zakharevich ’06 will rarely come up for air. She’ll still get into hour-long debates with friends over whether Mel Gibson was a one-dimensional character in Braveheart. And by then, every single person she has ever known will have a hand-knit case for her iPod,

Unfailingly, Kate E. Delaney ’06 will continue to tell long-winded stories with non-obvious points, so that Darren S. Morris ’05 still has to hold up a shot clock while she stumbles to get to the point. But I’ll still love every moment. She’ll be happily married, ski during the winter, and play recreational frisbee on the weekends.

Alexa P. Summer ’06 is going to be a high-powered lawyer in New York. In her loft downtown, she’s going to have huge vistas of abstract art lining the walls, floor to ceiling, and she’ll casually hold a martini glass as she points out artistic nuances to guests at cocktail parties. She’ll be living the part of Posh Spice, whom she played impeccably this past Halloween.

The pantry of Kathryn I. Seyfried ’06 will be full of cereal and other crunchy goods. Wearing fleece pajama pants, she’ll absentmindedly munch on Cheerios as she grades chemistry problem sets at the kitchen table, while children run amok and snag a couple of O’s with each pass.

Angela S. Kim ’06 buys us mini Finale cakes to celebrate birthdays and to drown disappointments. As her future self, she’ll still wear ginormous headphones as she listens to an eclectic mix of Korean pop, hip-hop (à la 50 Cent), and mellow alternative (à la Postal Service). When she goes to the cocktail parties at our 25th reunion, she’ll still fan her cheeks and ask if they look red after just one drink.

Wherever she is, or whatever she’s doing, Rosalie C. Thede ’06 will be singing. Her husband and kids are sure to tease her about the beautiful, clear notes that bounce off the tiles as she showers. She’ll still be the blondest one of all, Scandinavian to the core, and send us homemade cookies for St. Lucia’s Day.

Always the Californian, Jessica L. Jones ’06 will go out on her porch overlooking the Pacific every morning and throw her hands up in the air, yoga-style, embracing the day with vigor and ear-to-ear grins. She’ll drive a bright red convertible with the top down to an investment banking job, where she’ll keep her male inferiors snugly subdued under her pointy-toed shoe.

And as for me, well, I’m not sure where I’ll be. I hope I will be writing in some capacity, professional or otherwise, and living in my dream brownstone in New York City. I’ll drop my kids off at nursery school and then go sit at my desk overlooking Central Park, and pound away at my laptop for hours. FOPpers of mine have told me they think I should have seven kids, but we’ll see about that.

It’s bizarre and confusing and wholly intimidating to imagine where we, the current juniors, will be when we’re our parents’ age. Many of us don’t know whether we’re writing a thesis, what we’re doing this summer, or what to wear to the next House formal, let alone what turns our lives will take after we leave Cambridge. But this weekend I started to see parts of my mom in myself—and realized that adulthood and all it represents isn’t all too distant from where we stand.

When I grow up, I hope I’m as happy and successful as I know my roommates will be. I hope we keep in touch, I hope our kids are pen pals, and I hope when we gather together for reunions, or for our children’s Junior Parents Weekend, that we still can still toast and remember our college days, the same ones we’re ready to live up for the next 15 months.

Hana R. Alberts ’06 is a history and science concentrator in Mather House. In 34 years, look for her byline gracing the Metro section of the New York Times. Start crossing your fingers now. Or if she’s not there, just call the girls. They’ll know where to find her.