To the Woods: Living Deliberately at HLS

BY ERIN ARCHERD

I still haven’t made it out to Walden Pond, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a passage from it in which Thoreau talks about why it’s more fun living out in the woods than in Cambridge. I’m paraphrasing. He didn’t use the word fun.

The passage reminds me enough of my 1L year that I can’t help but share. After a detailed discussion of how much each brick and board of his cabin cost, Thoreau goes on to say:

“At Cambridge College the mere rent of a student’s room, which is only a little larger than my own, is thirty dollars each year, though the corporation had the advantage of building thirty-two side by side and under one roof, and the occupant suffers the inconvenience of many and noisy neighbors, and perhaps a residence in the fourth story.”

Did he live in Hastings? I wouldn’t say I had “many” neighbors, but 10 people sharing one bathroom made it feel like it, and it was a long way down from the fourth story to the kitchen in the basement. If only we could have put a hibachi grill out on the fire escape.

I did manage to move out of the dorms, but there’s not much I can do about Cambridge rents. Even moving out to Concord wouldn’t save me much, especially with the commute costs and time factored into my day.

I discovered that others shared my desire to get out of town, though, when I found myself piling into a ZipMiniVan two weeks ago for a trip to Providence, RI, for Popeye’s. You may have heard of Popeye’s famous chicken and biscuits. I may have also mentioned that I’m a vegetarian.

But those biscuits. Oh my. They left a greasy, buttery trail of honeyed and jammed goodness from the napkin to my mouth. Licking the salty crumbs from my lips was the culinary highlight of my week.

This past weekend I decided that escape by land wasn’t far enough for me, so I took to the seas. Two hours and one bumpy ride later, I was in whale country.

I’m not sure how I would feel if I was hanging out with my buddies and a boatful of creatures came up and started stalking me. I imagine it would be something like walking around Harvard Square and having a convertible full of squirrels drive up and snap photos of me. Squirrels might be a little small for this analogy. In terms of relative body size, badgers might be more appropriate, but squirrels are the most annoying and yippy animals I can think of, not unlike humans.

The semantics of stalking versus watching aside, it was thrilling to see group after group of humpback whales rising out of the ocean. Most people might think that the “fluking,” AKA diving, was the best part of whale watching, but for me, the formations were the most impressive. Those whales seemed to be enjoying popping out of the ocean and having the boats swing around to meet them. One even rose up in our wake, as if to say, “Where do you think you’re going guys?”

I don’t know where I’m taking you with all this anthropomorphic escapism, except to say in the most roundabout way possible that it already feels like time for a vacation.

Although, The Charles Hotel is starting to look like the Club Med of HLS. I’ve been considering wandering from suite to suite and stopping in for snacks on days when I don’t have interviews.

I could empty out my handbag bag and fill it with plastic baggies, then take snacks down to the lobby to feed the islands of students killing an hour or so between their trips up the elevator. If only there was a margarita machine like at the Quinn interviews at Lincoln’s Inn. Maybe Harvard could negotiate temporary gym memberships at the Wellbridge Spa for 2Ls and 3Ls so that all those chocolate covered pretzels and sodas don’t lead to the OCI-15.

Here’s an idea for all of you out there who want to commemorate your time at The Charles Hotel. Let’s have a hotel party. We’ll book one of those large “hospitality suites” and a few of the smaller interview rooms and set up a progressive. It will be just like all those band and Model UN trips from high school except with a nicer hotel and without one of your teachers trying to catch you watching pay-per-view adult movies.

HLCentral needs to get on this, if not for this year, then for next fall.

Picture it: a crazy all night party at The Charles Hotel, followed by a mass Walk of Shame home, only to drag ourselves out of bed for the Salsa Party the following night. What could be a better way to end interview season?

To The Charles Hotel Management: Don’t worry. I’m joking. At least for this year.

Erin Archerd is a 2L from California.

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