“Their love story unfolded then folded up again in Cambridge, as I watched and took mental notes and learned nothing, naturally, because the heart is unteachable.”
– Susanna Kaysen, Cambridge
The name “Cambridge” conjures to mind Stephen Hawking, charming buildings set amidst immaculate green lawns, and crazy cyclists (of which I am one). This temple of knowledge is governed by centuries-old traditions and prohibitions that make it particularly “Cambridge”. One of these is that the impeccable green lawns are perhaps pleasant to the eye but prohibited to be walked upon — unless one is a fellow of the college, that is.
These lawns are always marked with the sign, “Please do not walk on the grass” or “Ne marchez pas sur les pelouses, s’il vous plaît” for the convenience of its Francophone visitors. And there is always a porter at hand to ensure that these lawns remain untouched — or rather, unwalked upon.
Every student appreciates being escorted across the lawn by a fellow. It is not simply this taste of privilege that is sweet — one also begins to realize how much time one actually saves by being a fellow to whom shortcuts on such sacred ground are permitted.
Alas, for us students who occupy the very bottom of this hierarchy and to whom such privileges are denied, only paved hard ground is considered acceptable. But perhaps this is also meant to make us take a few extra minutes to appreciate the view while we’re hurrying to that supervision we’re late for (because we couldn’t find the right staircase and had to double back to the Porter’s Lodge twice for directions). In a beautiful place like Cambridge, the “system” can be so demanding such that one rarely has the time to stop and seize the moment. But once we do, there’s always a breathtaking view waiting to be discovered around the corner.
Below: the magnificent King’s College.