While walking through Newell-Simon Hall at Carnegie Mellon—at least the third time since I had graduated, I suddenly felt this knot in my stomach when I spotted a former classroom and a lab.
Immediately, I remembered not only the squeaky chair with attached writing surfaces, but also the horrible feeling of frustration and confusion. I could remember a desire to flee what seemed like a never-ending chaos. It was so visceral—this feeling that I had to walk out.
Oddly enough, only hours before I had offered plentiful optimistic advice as an alum. I was eager to give back to the students what I never got as a student. I sat in the lab for more than 3 hours telling students about my experiences and advice for each of their personal issues. At some point, I knew it was slightly stroking my ego…but in some way, just like many alum, I couldn’t remember the exact frustration, the never-ending work, the judgement…all that made up the demanding program. All I could remember was the good times that made me get my masters.
And so from Newell-Simon Hall, I walked up Forbes toward Squirrel Hill admiring the new bike lanes and signage. It reminded me of San Francisco, almost. Until I saw all the brick houses that all looked alike, lit up like burning fires.