It’s one of the first things you do when you decide on a college. One of the first things you do when touring a college. A way to say: I am here! A declaration of support for the school, for the memories you’ll make here. It’s the awkward, slightly embarrassed feeling that overcomes you, as you stand and smile and people walk past you. It’s jumping up and stretching your mouth into the widest smile you can manage. Standing on top. Sitting in front.
The picture equivalent to the college sweatshirt you wear with pride senior year of high school. The clarification that, no, it’s pronounced “puge-it” not “pug-it.” It’s the grass that is always green and slightly damp. The flowers that are always blooming.
I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture when I first toured the school, summer before senior year of high school. The sun was high that day and campus was absolutely gorgeous. On admitted students day there were so many people around and I was so determined to decide, is this the right place for me? to bother with pictures. The only picture I have of that day is me walking in front of Jones, it’s blurry and I’m laughing, because my mother had been lost moments before. (“It’s the brick building,” someone had told her. She had looked at him flabbergasted: “They’re all brick.”) Move-in day freshman year I was too focused on getting everything unpacked. Having my garden-level room feel like home. Meeting people, putting in an effort to make new friends for the first time in years. Coming back for sophomore year, my mom must’ve mentioned it a half a dozen times. “Talena, let’s get a picture in front of the sign!” I nodded at her every time, but never made an effort to actually get the picture taken.
I was cognizant of the fact that it is slightly embarrassing, standing up there. It is much less like a goofy picture of you and and your friends and more like a statement: Here we are. It wasn’t until yesterday, while we were waiting for someone to run back for a jacket, that the thought of getting a picture in front of the sign came back to me.
“Gaea, let me get a picture of you in front of the sign,” I proclaimed, pulling out my phone.
She gave me a flat look. “You should be in it too.”
So there we stood at last, grinning and laughing and feeling a bit like idiots in front of the sign, in front of the school we were so proud to go to.