From Such Great Heights
By Alaina Perdon '22
Apr. 6, 2022
In just over a month, I’ll make my grand exit from Washington College, leaving red bricks and Martha’s fries for the proverbial “real world” and all it entails. This spring is one of reflection and preemptive nostalgia as I sift through the memories I’ll be taking with me, and scramble to make just a few more before May. Therefore, I set about a mission to stir up just a bit of mischief before graduation, and see our campus from a new perspective in the process. Climbing onto some roofs, I had a nice, long think while atop iconic campus buildings.
The Toll Greenhouse, a familiar location for lab TAs and student researchers, is full of light and greenery. Tadpoles swimming in carefully-labeled tanks and neat rows of propagating plants radiate academic devotion and success.
The CAC attic is pristine, reminiscent of the polished marble stairs many of us walked up upon first arriving on campus. The open roof, however, provides the perfect vantage point to watch gaggles of students shuffle across the Square; a bird’s eye view of a path I take every day.
The living roof in the campus garden is tiny and shakes a bit when a strong wind blows. You can’t see very far from there, but you can pause for a moment, watch the chickens chase after a scurrying spider, and smell the blossoms on the nearby trees.
The Kent roof is most peculiar, the home of mysterious bones and heavy metal machinery. From the labyrinthine air ducts to the perilous ladder, it seems an appropriate topper to the building in which I first learned to navigate the college experience.
And the Smith attic, by far my favorite, is a raw, magical museum of student life hidden behind an unassuming door on the third floor. The walls lining the stairwell are their own modern day Lascaux cave paintings, C.S. ’89, Kate-who-loves-Josh, and Handy Randy from 1998 all leaving an etching to say, “I was here! I experienced this just like you!”
From the cupola I’ve walked beneath hundreds of times, I could see right to the river, the neighborhoods across Washington Avenue, and seemingly every inch of our campus — the few miles that comprised my world for the last four years sprawled out in front of me. It’s even prettier from above.
After all my scrambling up ladders and stairs, I came to recognize the unique atmosphere created in the different corners of campus, a subtle thing we overlook when caught up in classes, sports, and parties. Each building has its own unique energy — studious, prestigious, meditative, youthful — which comes from the individuals that inhabit these spaces every day. We imbue a bit of ourselves into our environment and leave our marks, whether physical or not.
It’s been an honor to have existed alongside so many remarkable people in my time here, growing and changing, shaped by those around me. The individuals I’ve met on this little campus have certainly left deep impressions on me that I’ll carry well beyond my graduation. And while I didn’t bring a pen to leave my own graffiti in the Smith attic, as my departure from the College draws near, I can only hope I’ve left something to trademark my brief residency, to remind everyone that A.P. ’22 was here.
Alaina is an environmental studies major with minors in anthropology and Chesapeake Regional studies, passionate and curious about the intersections of history, culture, and ecology. Through her writing, art, and — hopefully — future career path, she hopes to inspire her fellow humans to embrace their role in the environment. You can often find her chasing after toads or pondering trees' emotional capacities.