class of 2024’s summer of self-delusion

by sophiewolfe

Breaking news: class of 2024 thinks they’re hot shit 

Sophie wolfe 

This past summer, Burlington neighborhoods were rocked by an infestation of a third kind. Neither rats nor cockroaches, but a big old horde of 20 year old idiots experiencing off-campus living for the very first time. The time had finally come for the long-suffering class of 2024 to leave their dorm rooms and make their exodus into the real world. They stormed the city on the first of June, under the urging of their enabling landlords, who, of course, present their own kind of exterminatory problem. They rolled up on this divine land like the Donner Party, hauling their entire lives on their backs, setting out for a new frontier to conquer, and willing to resort to cannibalism if it became necessary. They appeared on the horizon, driving up 89 in their mom’s used cars with a confidence previously unknown. Anyone could tell that hell was about to break loose. There was a clear difference in the air. You could smell it. And it was more than just the smell of a trunk full of old socks. It was the smell of newfound freedom. 

On that fateful June day, the class of ‘24 was officially free from the imaginary shackles of dorm life, free from the fight for the single functional washing machine in the building, free from the RAs who were just trying to do their jobs, and free from the embarrassing status of underclassmen. A new chapter of their lives was beginning. Good for them, whatever. Stupid kids were full of it, thinking they had everything they needed, thinking they were ready to get out there and live their lives. They were equipped with full mattresses, toaster ovens, various questionable pots and pans. They had jobs lined up for the summer working at restaurants or skate shops or whatever struggling local businesses that were desperate enough to hire a kid whose resume consisted of “Babysitter” and “Honor Roll 2017”. 

After the bed frames had been constructed, the Allen wrenches used and immediately lost, after their parents took them to City Market and remarked at the absurd variety of seltzer flavors, the class of 2024 waved a bitchy goodbye to their past and prepared to bounce off into the future. Like the young, naive heroes of every coming of age film ever, they were fresh-faced, ready to take the city by storm. Burlington was different in the summer, and they were different too. More mature. Taller, even. They had houses to fill with trinkets and nonsense. Basil plants growing in the windowsills, bong acting as centerpiece on the kitchen table, everything was in its place. The summer stretched out in the distance, long, empty. The possibilities, I truly hate to say, were endless.  

The egotism came upon them almost instantly, a voice that whispered, “This land is yours now. Do with it what you will.” And they did. They pulled Christopher Columbus moves all over town, claiming to ‘discover’ local haunts which had literally been there years before they even knew what UVM was. They swung their newly copied house keys on their index fingers as they made the walk to Momo’s, crossing the street without even pausing to check if the oncoming traffic was going to pummel them. Whatever, they thought, these are my streets; I can actually do whatever I want. They bought cigarettes from Henry Street Deli with a careful nonchalance, bragging to their housemates on their return, “Yeah, they didn’t even card me. I guess they just recognize me from the neighborhood or something.” The housemates nod along in synchronicity. They’re cooking rice for the 10th time in a week. They’re developing iron deficiencies at the speed of light. It doesn’t matter. They’re free, remember? This is what freedom looks like, right? Constant hunger, listlessness, the feeling of dread you get every evening around dinner time? It’s only the transition between adolescence and complete adulthood, it’s only the final push toward independence and personal responsibility. Why not just dive right in?

Look, maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I spent the summer at home, driving my grandmother to the Piggly Wiggly. Maybe while you guys were all having fun in town all summer long, I was in a part of the country that not even God could love, rolling my eyes into the back of my head for two months. Maybe my FOMO is pathological and I need to talk to somebody about it. Maybe! It’s a distinct possibility! I mean, the Instagrams alone drove me up the wall, my peers showing off their stupid front porches and their trips to the lake and their moments of collective joy and togetherness. I scrolled through endless slideshows of identical Burlington sunsets, and violent screams rose in my throat. “What’s wrong?” my mom would ask. “Nothing,” I would reply. “I need to go walk the dog for the fourth time today.”

My bitterness is a part of me! Accept it or die! What could I do but watch as my classmates conquered the Old North End, hung out in bars and wore jean shorts and made themselves familiar with the art of collective living? These assholes were doing it all, and they thought they were soooo fucking special for repeating the same step that every other upperclassman at UVM has taken for years and years. They forgot their roots, they shed their skin, they lost the fear that I feel at literally all times. They began to feel truly at home. What kind of sick bullshit is that? Didn’t we just get here? At what point did we become the kind of people who carry house keys? Who take out the recycling every week? I still feel like a tiny weird baby who doesn’t really know how to talk or use my limbs or understand anything, and you guys are out here doing all this garbage? Calm down! You think you’re hot shit now because you are able to emotionally handle the intense transitional stages of life??? You think you’re all that??? Suck my dick, bro. I’m not crying, you are.  

Categories: sophie wolfe, wt staff

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