After the Bubble Bursts

Emily Meranda, Class of ’08

Life after Lawrence: What is it? When I first joked to fellow Lawrentian Stephen Anunson that I wanted to do a Life After Lawrence article, it was mostly to convince myself I was still a part of Lawrence while maintaining a healthy distance. It’s a tricky situation, staying tuned into campus without being “that senior” who you’re pretty sure graduated but might actually be doing an extra year, but you’re just not positive. One thing I know about life at Lawrence is that it’s a good life, however unaware we may be of it at the time. Life at Lawrence is comforting and familiar. We know where and how to find people, and more importantly, where and how to find ourselves.
Life after Lawrence, for me, has been a continuation of education. After a commute from Minneapolis into St. Paul, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. I find myself swarmed by four-year-olds in the pre-kindergarten classroom at Longfellow Humanities Elementary School. Teaching four-year-olds has been an eye-opening experience. Forget your honors projects, 600-level seminars, and summa cum laude distinctions: We adults pale in comparison to the intelligence of a four-year-old. They understand more about the human condition than you’d think and can express emotions I once thought too complex for a four-year-old.
I had a nasty paper cut this week and when a student saw it he made me a Band Aid from a rubber-band and Kleenex and asked, “Miss Emily, did your Mom help you when you got hurt? Helping people makes people feel better. I can help you with your paper cut.” I am jealous of the uncomplicated minds of my four-year-olds. Even my student from Somalia, who has no English language abilities at all, recognizes distress in others and shows beautiful empathy to someone from whom she doesn’t understand a single word.
Life after Lawrence is still totally a learning environment. In leaving behind the order and routine of Lawrence I learned to embrace the unknown, and after a summer in Middle-of-Nowhere, Ohio combing job Web sites and a cross-country apartment search with fellow Lawrentian and current roommate Caitlin Gallogly, my life in Minneapolis started Aug. 4. It’s been the best risk I’ve ever taken. In a neighborhood three blocks from what some consider the ghetto, I wake up to the sounds of my neighbor blasting “Crank That” in the parking lot. Armed with picture books, stickers, and hand sanitizer, I drive between the Twin Cities and prepare myself for all the important things my four-year-old students have to tell me: “Miss Emily, trains make the ‘choo-choo’ noise, not fart noises.” “Miss Emily, I puked last night and it was green!” “Miss Emily, I didn’t bring my snow pants to school because I didn’t want to get them wet and dirty outside.” Every day is exciting and every day I am learning how to be a better adult from my four-year-old teachers.
The transition from the Bubble into adulthood can be nearly seamless and painless. Taking risks and making fools of ourselves while inside the Bubble helps us to not repeat embarrassing patterns when we get out. While I like to believe that I am more mature and capable since graduating, the hint of awkward that every Lawrentian feels is definitely still ingrained in me. That will never leave any of us, and it’s nice to know that there is some constancy in the ever-changing real world. We will always have our communal knowledge of “The Republic” and our deep-rooted love for the VR to remind us of the environment that prepared us to go out and live enriching and inspiring lives.
So, Life after Lawrence: what is it? It’s pretty good, kids.