BY TAYLOR DASHER
I have never hidden my confusion and irritation with the People’s Republic of Cambridge. I don’t understand how a place with nine months of winter can have such exorbitant rents without having ski lodges or lax narcotics laws. I don’t know how the infrastructure of a city containing MIT can fail to apply basic mathematical concepts such as straight lines, ninety-degree angles, and the meaning of the word “square.” I can’t comprehend why the last haven for the fast food hamburgers that made America great and Morgan Spurlock unreasonably famous is being replaced by yet another taqueria.
I hate the way everything closes early, forcing thousands of students to disperse into tiny groups because no one can afford a place big enough to comfortably house more than two and three-eighths full-sized human beings and their notions of personal space. I am annoyed that there isn’t a single diner where I can have a late night drunken feast of waffles, eggs, and coffee. The teen angst circulating around the Harvard Square T-stop is enough to give me acne, black clothes, black fingernails, and an irrationally black mood. The guy playing a string on a stick while staring into space scares me. And there isn’t a bar that allows smoking, making me sorely miss the combined smell of stale smoke and beer in the morning that consoled me that I had done my best the night before when I woke up alone.
So I perfectly understand the desire to leave Cambridge. It’s a nice place, but I’ll never be comfortable with any place that seems to have the highest per capita number of tiny dogs dressed in sweaters. Everyone I know is leaving the city for spring break. Generally they leave for some place warm, but the vast majority’s greatest concern isn’t the weather – it’s just being some place other than here. The prospect of leaving puts smiles on their faces even if they’re going to Abu Ghraib or Camden, New Jersey.
The 3Ls in particular are desperately yearning to leave. They act like thoroughbreds hopped up on “the cream” and “the clear” champing at the bit and bashing their heads against the starting gate. I bet only half of them return from Spring Break. If not for 3L papers, I think all of them would be taking classes by correspondence with the HL Central outline bank. You know things are bad when people are actually looking forward to the day they go to work for Skadden.
This leaves me with one big question: why don’t we leave Cambridge more often? There is an entire state outside of Cambridge. Or so I have heard. To be honest, I still haven’t actually seen it. I don’t have a car, and I’m lazy.
There is also an entire city just across the river, and I can say this with authority since I have actually seen it (though mostly from window of a landing airplane). Boston is only three subway stops away and yet we rarely take advantage of it. Museums, sports games, restaurants, and young adults unfamiliar with the term “H-bomb” all lay for the taking just across the river. Granted, many of the things Boston offers do cost money, but what’s fifty bucks for a change of pace when you’re already looking at one hundred thousand dollars of debt?
Now I’m not saying Boston is the greatest place on earth. That title definitely belongs to any Krispy Kreme shop with the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign flipped on. But the city does offer a chance to broaden our experiences and add a significant amount of variety to our lives. Even if Cambridge is for all intents and purposes part of Boston, it’s nice to at least experience some other parts of the city. For example, the North End offers some Italian food other than the gastronomical tract-strengthening “ziti ala three aces.” The theater district also offers productions that don’t take place in law school auditoriums and don’t have me in them. And there are fast food hamburger joints.
But we rarely go into Boston unless an out-of-town friend is leading the way. We are perfectly malcontent to just sit on our rears and complain about how Cambridge is less fun and less attractive than our previous habitats. We are too nerdy to venture out, and as law students, we are too negative to be happy about that.
Despite our grumbling, Cambridge is a nice place to live. The problem isn’t really the city; it’s that almost all of us know we have no desire to stay here before we even arrive. The place becomes the functional equivalent of three years of purgatory, and our feelings about the area fall accordingly.
But even if Cambridge is one giant waiting room, it doesn’t mean we have to sit and flip through our casebooks like they were old copies of People magazine until the receptionist calls us back to pick up our diploma. It’s a three-year wait for crying out loud, and no one can cut us in line. We shouldn’t just be happily leaving Cambridge when we have spring break or graduation. We should regularly get beyond a six block radius of the law school.
Our inertia is simply inexcusable. We cannot behave as if there were giant umbilical cords chaining us all to Langdell (and yes, our torpor is every bit as disgusting as that image). It should take nothing more than the lack of a deathly blizzard to get our butts out of Gropius. So get out and enjoy spring break next week. And when (or perhaps I should say “if” for the 3Ls) you come back, please get out and enjoy yourself some more. You might not like Cambridge any better, but you might like your life a little better.
Taylor Dasher never leaves Cambridge.