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Mount Creative Writers

Role Reversal

Chelsea Baranoski

"You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days

hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this."

(10/2010) These lyrics from country singer Trace Adkins swirl through my brain as I visit my sister, Rachel, for Mount St. Mary’s Family Weekend. Rachel is a freshman at the Mount majoring in Math Secondary Education. When I visit my sister on the sprawling green campus, I am overcome with nostalgia. As a graduate of the Class of 2010, I wonder, do these students whom I see walking to the dining hall (and yes, still holding the door open for me), talking with their roommates in the residence halls, and pumping iron at the athletic complex, realize that their years on Mary’s Mountain are going to fly by faster than you can say "Mountaineer?" Do they realize that college life is a lot more carefree than the working world, a world that does not consist of college nights at Ott’s and late-night Sheetz runs? Sure it’s nice not to worry about cramming for exams and reading so much literature that your eyeballs beg for a new prescription, but these students will definitely miss the Mount once they leave. I would bet a Mountaineer meal plan on that.

If I had to choose one word to describe what it feels like to watch my sister begin her four years as a Mount Maniac, it would be "weird." I feel like I am re-living my years at the Mount, but this time I have new glasses (with a stronger prescription!) and more knowledge. It is especially weird that Rachel lives on the third floor of Pangborn Hall, the same floor I lived on during my freshman and sophomore years. On move-in day, I saw the same custodian who made sure our floor passed the white-glove test four years ago. She didn’t recognize me, but I guess that’s due to my four years of aging and the freshman fifteen. When I helped move Rachel into Pangborn, I could not help but wonder if this was payback for all of the times she moved my one million and one college necessities into my rooms over the last four years. Now, it was my turn to sweat bullets in a room lacking air conditioning. It was my turn to help hang my sister’s wardrobe on bright plastic hangers. It was my turn to stock the closet with flip flops, tennis shoes, and high heels. It was my turn to stock her desk drawers with brightly colored sticky notes, stark white computer paper, and clear Scotch tape. It was my turn to adorn the white bedroom walls with her Northeast High School Pennant, her Hello Kitty calendar, and numerous pictures of family and friends stuck to French memo boards. I unrolled the same three rugs I used in my rooms over the last four years. It was official. The tables had turned. Rachel always helped me move into my dorm. Now, it was vice versa.

As if moving my sister into my former residence hall isn’t weird enough, walking around the Mount’s campus is even weirder. Students give me that "I thought you graduated. What are you doing here?" look. When I hopped out of my mom’s green van on move-in day, the peer mentor on duty gave me a confused look and asked, "Didn’t you graduate?" I had to explain that I did walk across the stage, but my sister is attending the Mount now. I think there should be a small billboard placed in front of the dining hall that says, "Chelsea no longer goes here. But, her sister does. So yes, folks, you haven’t gotten rid of her yet. She’ll be back." Better yet, maybe the "Look out for Chelsea" sign should be posted on Route 15 – that highway gets a lot of Mount traffic. Or maybe I should just record my reason for returning to the Mount on a small tape recorder – that would be a lot less expensive and it would still save me from repeating over and over again that my sister is a newly minted Mountie.

The other thing that weirds me out about returning to the Mount for another four years is that I am missing so much fun! I really think I should have postponed my graduation date until 2011. This year, the Mount seniors had a social gathering in the newly renovated Purcell Hall, now named Club 1808. I would have loved to go to Club 1808 and dance with my favorite Mounties! Why did the Mount decide to wait to renovate everything until after I graduated? In addition to Purcell Hall, the Mount completed renovations to the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center and the exercise rooms at the ARCC, the Mount’s athletic complex. Maybe if all of those brand new treadmills and weights were there when I began my stay, I would have actually been willing to walk the million miles over to the ARCC and work out like Richard Simmons (minus the spandex and wild hairdo). All of the renovations make me wonder if I will recognize the Mount when I come back for my five-year reunion.

When I saw the list of student activities for September 2010, I was crushed. I am missing out on Chocolate Night, free bowling at Sunshine Lanes, a trip to the Inner Harbor, and shuttle rides to Frederick and Gettysburg! I am also missing out on a trip to the All-Star Sports Complex for free go-kart rides and mini-golf. This is where I am notorious for crashing into whomever’s vehicle is unfortunate enough to be in front of mine. I may be a horrible go-kart driver, but I would have loved to give go-karting another chance! I am even missing out on the little things, like late night smoothies in the Mount Café. I could not believe it when I saw the huge sign set up on an easel outside the Mount Café advertising these delicious drinks. When I attended the Mount, smoothies were only served in the Mount’s dining hall during breakfast and lunch. Smoothies at night were unheard of. I commend whoever decided to make smoothies a part of the Mount Café menu. I just hope that the Café continues to serve nachos – a lot of intense studying and reading often produces intense cravings for loads of unhealthy nacho cheese.

It is incredibly strange to talk to my sister and hear about all of her Mount excursions, including trips to Wal-Mart and Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg. I remember going to Wal-Mart with my roommates and stocking up on college necessities such as DVDs and junk food. I also remember my first trip to Lincoln Diner, which I am ashamed to say, did not occur until my sophomore year of college. I can still taste the ooey-gooey chocolate chip pancakes and the whipped cream-topped hot chocolate. (Now you know why there is such a thing as the freshman fifteen).

Perhaps the oddest feeling of all was hearing President Powell’s speech during Rachel’s Family Weekend. Sure, I have heard the story of Mount St. Mary’s founder John Dubois’ journey to the Mount a hundred times, but it was different listening to the speech as a recent graduate. President Powell told the Class of 2014 and their parents that their time at the Mount would go by quickly. As a freshman, I had no idea how fast four years could vanish. I think my four years in high school passed more slowly than my four years at the Mount. When I was a freshman, I could not even think about graduation. After all, I was more concerned about surviving Friday’s test in Origins of the West and those pesky computerized psychology quizzes. When I listened to President Powell’s speech as a recent graduate, I could attest that everything he said was correct. The people are what make the Mount. Because the community is small, everyone takes care of one another. The Mount professors are an excellent bunch of scholars. They may hand out challenging assignments, but their demand for excellence leaves students with skills that are extremely valuable in the work force. My favorite part of President Powell’s speech was the question and answer session. A mother raised her hand and told President Powell that her son was unsure if he made the right decision to come to Mount St. Mary’s. She advised him to stick it out and see if he liked it any better. During Family Weekend, the mother was relieved to find that her son had a complete change of attitude. He loves the Mount, especially the food! Another audience member testified that his daughter got accepted to Fordham University, only a fifteen-minute drive from her house. He was happy that she chose the Mount because even though he missed her, he knew that he would not need to worry about her. These pleasant stories always warm my heart and make me want to sneak into a residence hall and go back to college by snapping my fingers.

Though it may feel weird to relive my four years at the Mount with my little sister, I welcome this weirdness. Because my sister attends the Mount, I have an excuse to make periodic visits to my second home. I love running into my friends and former professors. It is so nice to be welcomed with smiling faces and enthusiastic Mount spirit! I am glad that my sister chose the Mount and I can only hope that she makes the most of her time on the mountain. I know that one day she will miss the Mount and want those days back. Maybe this will occur in August after she graduates, when she realizes that she will not be returning to class in the fall, or maybe this will occur when she is sitting in a high school classroom, teaching Algebra I to ninth graders. Regardless of the timing, I know she will miss these good times and want them back. To the Mount’s Class of 2014, study hard, but always remember to have fun. A wise classmate once told me, "Live. Laugh. Love yourself. It doesn’t matter the order, as long as you do all three." Follow this advice every year and you will leave the Mount feeling like you did not waste a second of your time on the mountainside.

Chelsea was the 2010 recipient of the Mount’s
William Heath Creative Writing Award

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski