Life as a Gainster | St. Lawrence University

Life as a Gainster

Ashley Richardson

“Get up,” the alarm clock chanted for what felt like hours. It wasn’t until I rolled over, my eyes heavy with sleep, and left the warmth of my bed that the prodding noises would finally stop. That alarm clock was just known for being the most annoying and irritating thing in the world, just pushing all the wrong buttons. Yeah, it was a love-hate relationship between us and I admit that there were times I wanted to throw that alarm across the room.

But you see, the funny thing is you probably think I’m talking about an actual alarm clock. No, I'm talking about my roommate during my first year at St. Lawrence. Every morning I woke up in our dorm, Gaines, to the pushing, the shoving and the cover-stripping madness that was Carly Stine. But I can’t tell you how many times that girl saved my life. Yeah, sure - in the midst of my sleep-deprived rage I wanted to throw a tantrum, but how many of us can say that our roommates cared enough to wake us up every morning, even after watching you purposely hit snooze a million times?

There was only one problem with having my roommate as an alarm clock: it seemed she was always running late, which of course meant that I was always running late. So let’s just say my morning routine had become an all-out marathon. Hair. Teeth. Sweatpants. Socks. Shoes. Sprint across the street. Eight minutes exactly. You would think that having class right across the street from Gaines would force us to be more timely, but not Carly and me. According to the others in our First-Year Program (FYP), “we didn’t know how not to rush.”

But regardless of our rushing, which I do admit was a tad bit reckless, we always seemed to make it on time for what became one of my favorite classes. Let’s just say our FYP, 'Finding a Voice,' was very interesting, as were Larry Boyette and Michael Farley, our professors - they were just characters (Farley, especially). I think one of my favorite topics in class had to be street dancing, mainly because it had everyone in the dorm krumping for like a week (which was hilarious). But on a more serious note, comparing the aesthetics of street dance to the more formal structure of modern dance was really interesting to me. I was beginning to look at music, language, dancing, and many other things differently.

It was down in the dungeons of Griffiths Art Center, where class was held in the appropriately named classroom The Underground, that I realized ‘Finding a Voice’ wasn’t just the name of the class I was taking, I was literally finding my voice. I found myself willing to participate in activities that I would have normally shied away from in high school and I was actually having fun. The atmosphere, the people - it all had me finally coming out of my shell. That's the thing about the FYP: you get so close with the people you live with. Sure, we all made fun of the name games and were sometimes annoyed with the frequency of dorm meetings, but in all honesty, the FYP at St. Lawrence created the perfect place for me to make friends and feel comfortable. There was no choice but to get up close and personal.

Everyone in my FYP was probably closer to one another than any other first-years on campus. Our dorm was in what felt like the boondocks and was far away from the center of campus. While some people may have been annoyed with that, which I was at first, being so far away left us with a closer-knit group of friends than I thought possible. Even on the weekends we found ourselves swept away in our music, singing and jamming out forever. I fell in love with the notorious Gaines jam sessions. There wasn’t a moment people didn’t take the chance to pull out their guitars, sing a tune, beat box or bring out the cello. And me, you could find me where I always was, fiddling with the piano. With two missing black keys and peeling wood chips and cracks that ran along its sides, the piano that belonged to Gaines was probably out of tune for years. The poor thing was run down to its last bone, but we loved it all the same.

And all night long you could hear us: “Oh darling, darling / Stand by me / oh stand by me.” That song and those people are fond memories. They are some of the very reasons I fell in love with this place. I was - and will always be - a Gainster.