I wonder if this is as close as I’ll ever get to Ivy League.
It’s Wednesday, and the sun warms campus with a blanket. In several ways, here, it’s warm: in temperature, it’s near 60 Fahrenheit; in color, it’s an eruption of autumn’s hues piercing this town’s miniature skyline; in metaphysics, it’s my brain convincing me that I’m a grad student and that my walk to Rackham is a series of those yellow, antique flip book photographs.
Fast forward one week and four days, past Halloween’s shitshow, a week of midterms, and this weekend’s tragic football loss to Nebraska, and I sit studying far away from campus on Ann Arbor-Saline, reminiscing on all thoughts that led to the beginnings of this post. It has sat as a draft on the Sweetland blog site for twelve days now, yet I return to it with equal unrest and inability to articulate just what I want to say about it. But I attempt.
I dream of Harvard. I’ve dreamt of Harvard for just under a month now, ever since my friends and I roadtripped there in search of Ivy League husbands. Never has Ivy League existed as a physical being to me, as anything remotely within my reach, but it has existed nonetheless. I know Harvard only as an idea, as this faraway fantasy, this almost mystical land with magical properties and inhabitants whose eliteness exceeds my small-town-Midwestern capacity.
But then I consider Michigan and, more, the University of Michigan as the residence of my undergraduate career and how it has tastefully, academically elite qualities according to some who rank it. I didn’t know I would come here, and I didn’t know I was anything with which good schools and inevitably elite people wanted an association, but somehow I’m here and swimming in a pool with all of the above.
It’s a strange feeling to tell your newfound Ivy League husbands- graduate students at Harvard- where you attend undergrad and to have them respond with a level of respect for what you’re doing. “U of M? I have a few friends here who did Michigan undergrad,” they say, and I have to pretend like that’s not the most out-of-body exchange I’ve had in a decade. People with whom I attend undergrad will go to Harvard grad. I could go to Harvard grad.
I recall my visit a few weeks back to Harvard’s campus: I am dressed in scarves and last night’s makeup; I am walking in clicky shoes on Cambridge’s stone streets caffeinating myself; I am being given a tour of Harvard Square by a few of the institution’s rugby players. And I am falling hard and fast in love with a place that has a gorgeousness that I can only describe by its hues, its piercingly warming vibes that on those three to four perfect Midwestern, 60-degree days of autumn, the University of Michigan mimics for me.
So for the past few weeks, my goals have taken slight turns, and my projected 5-year-plan has transformed from “make it out of Michigan undergrad alive” to “neurotically apply and interview for some of the most elite internships in Corporate America, make plans to get an 800 on the GMAT, and start a charity or two along the way.” I’m addicted to the idea of Harvard, the shimmering image of me walking on its stone streets in the clicky shoes, carrying heavy emerald-colored books. “Life in Crimson,” I call it. I’m in love- perhaps hopelessly- with the books, the elite, the challenge, and the hues. I’m in love with Harvard.