Meet Me at the Parking Garage

To the nearest percent, SSP is 46% over today.

I’ve been keeping track, mentally counting down as I lay in my three-foot-high bed at the end of each day. (As a short-legged person, getting into that bed is a challenge in and of itself.) 

The paradox of SSP is that time simultaneously passes at a snail’s pace and in a whirlwind. On one hand, every hour is jam-packed with productivity, and we accomplish in days what would usually take me two weeks and several mental breakdowns. On the other hand, I can’t believe we’re already 18 days in.

With day 18 came our weekly field trip to Turkey Run State Park. During the cornfield-ridden bus ride there, I soundly defeated Phillip (Kevin, as I have dubbed him) in 8 Ball – needless to say, a highly successful start to the day. What commenced after that bus ride, however, was possibly the most strenuous two hours I have faced at SSP thus far – including the time our lab group had to redo all three steady state kinetics trials at once (long story). 

Having lived in Ohio my entire life, I have long held the belief that the Midwest has minimal topography. Today, I was proven wrong. As it turns out, western Indiana is home to some of the fiercest mountains around. Never ones to back down from a challenge, our entire program decided to go on the “extreme” hiking trail, which cut through dense shrubbery and steep ravines and featured a comically large number of stairs. Said trail left us feeling how every day at SSP does – exhausted but accomplished.

The rest of the day was spent in the blissfully air-conditioned Nature Center, where we wasted away the hours just being ourselves. I refused to look at the snakes (as I usually do), Alina comforted me when I freaked out about aforementioned snakes (as Alina usually does <3), Nathan convinced me to write poetry (as Nathan usually does), and Sehyun spoke really good Chinese (as Sehyun usually does). Also, I got to meet some delightful IU and Genomics friends who I’d previously only known online – if Josie, Erika, Audrey, and company are reading, it was a pleasure to meet y’all!

I was reminded, as I am every day, of why SSP is so enjoyable. I wrote my application about being a shy kid – about how I never truly carpe’d the diems that I wanted to carpe, because I was too scared to put myself out there. But here, being open and seizing each day is surprisingly easy. I’ve come to appreciate every afternoon spent in CHAS, writing assay protocols and teasing Kevin (Phillip) about being five-foot-eleven-and-a-half. (I’m definitely just salty about being barely five-six :,) However! Kevin is short.) I cherish the bubble tea trips with Alina, Victoria, Isabelle, Shelby, and Aniyah – apparently Californians have not experienced the pure joy that is drinking Kung Fu Tea, so we had the honor of guiding Shelbs through her first boba order.

But most of all, I love nights spent watching the sun from the fifth floor of the University Street Parking Garage. It’s not a particularly glamorous locale – in fact, the elevator there looks like it will disintegrate the minute you step into it. There is something about that reinforced concrete and the strobing burnt-orange lights, however, that makes talking the most natural thing in the world. (I considered using “organic” there, but for some reason everyone here has an aversion to that word. I wonder why :)) I’ve been fortunate to have some really great chats with some really cool people.

I recently had a conversation with Nathan about what it means to love. Being the young, naïve little smol beans we are, we’re still uncertain. But I know this – despite all the times I’ve felt lost (academically and geographically), tired, intimidated, and hungry (perhaps a sign I should start waking up in time for breakfast), I love these people and this program. And I know I’ll miss it when it’s over.

But. It is definitely too soon to be thinking about endings.

So for now, I’ll just hope for 21 more days of parking garage sunsets.

Howdy! I’m Michelle, and I’m a rising senior from Ohio. When I’m not studying science, I enjoy playing the flute, taking 0.5x selfies, saying “ope” excessively, and drinking copious amounts of bubble tea. Also, I’ve been told my blog title sounds slightly menacing – but, as it suggests, I am very passionate about sunsets at the parking garage.