Pasta is better than King’s Chapel
PLOY KINGCHATCHAVAL: Week 4
Perspective is hard.
So it hasn’t been the best of weeks. Henry the Laptop, with whom I have had a healthy and fruitful relationship spanning several years, decided it was finally time to end our love affair. A year and a half’s worth of university work (and my sanity) is currently hanging in the balance until Friday, when the Apple Store employee I cried on will determine the fate of my possibly-lost-forever dissertation draft.
Walking home from a night out, I walked headfirst into some traffic lights. I happened to be leaving a hysterical voice message at the time, so the sound of my forehead hitting metal ringing out over the harmonious tones of my drunken weeping is available to listen to on repeat. I have gone through the week with a small but disturbingly pronounced lump over my eyebrow, and an ever-growing sense of nausea, apathy and general despondency. Concussion? Perhaps. Or maybe this week has just been really shit.
I tend to find that whenever you’re having a bad time at Cambridge, you’re always told to maintain perspective, to look at the bigger picture. It’s just one week in eight! One term in three! You’re at Cambridge, for fuck’s sake! Gaze upon the glorious, looming presence of King’s Chapel and remember how insignificant your problems are, puny undergraduate! Observe the perpetual cycle of formal halls with their candlelit magnificence and the great black flapping gowns, of the myriad of hands exchanging tomes of knowledge in the hallowed corridors of the UL: how can your essay crisis compare when it’s but a mere blip in the consciousness of this eternal, ever-magnificent institution?
Cambridge is great. I’m not denying that. It’s massive, and it’s brilliant, and I am but one person passing through. I get it. But when you’ve got three missing coursework essays and you’ve run out of milk again and you can’t remember the last time you changed your sheets and the sinking realisation that you haven’t done any work in two weeks is making you want to call up your mum from the library at four in the morning and cry? I can’t say being told to look at the bigger picture is particularly comforting or helpful. Even if that bigger picture is printed on the thousands of postcards being sold for extortionate prices on King’s Parade.
I propose that, instead of maintaining perspective by zooming out, we should zoom in. Sometimes I forget, in the inevitable halfway-through-the-term blur of work handed in and crappy nights out, that there are lots of really good things about university life happening to me right now in this exact moment that they don’t advertise in the prospectus.
Receiving real-time text updates on Take Me Out from your best friend when you’re too busy to watch it with her. Making pasta at an entirely unreasonable hour and eating it in bed. Really attractive Apple Store employees who don’t mind when you cry on them. Finding an extra pair of clean pants when you thought you’d run out and would have to put a wash on. When the ADC bar puts Taylor Swift on repeat. The fact that it’s so cold outside you can store your wine on your balcony instead of in the fridge three floors below. Watching the Black Mirror Christmas special in February.
That nagging expectation that we should constantly be grateful for where we are shouldn’t overshadow the fact that where we are is desirable because of the smaller, more easily-forgotten components that exist within it. When you have a shit week, sometimes the only things that will make it better are eating pasta and rewatching Bring It On – not the buildings we live in, or the supervisions we have – and that’s fine.
Also everyone #PrayforHenrytheLaptop. Wish me luck for next week.