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Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Authentic Eagles: Kristen Morse on Turning the Calendar Page

When I was 17, I had lunch with the late Father Neenan, one of BC’s most beloved Jesuits. My parents are BC alumni (and my sister is a sophomore—hi Hailey), so we visited often, ran around the field at Alumni, wore BC gear, and spent countless hours with my parents and their college friends, hearing all their incredible stories and dreaming of BC.

This particular visit with Fr. Neenan included a conversation regarding my chances of admittance into the class of 2018. But instead of remembering any of that, I came away from our meeting with something that I’ve thought about on a regular basis ever since: appreciation.

I wrote a lot when I was younger, starting journal “files” at a very young age. I have records of my life in a ridiculous amount of other forms, too: scrapbooks, photo books, boxes of little papers and mementos, print and digital photos, and, most notably, videos. I have 30 monthly videos from my high school years, and as of recently, a one-second-everyday video compilation from junior and senior year in progress.

No matter how many different mediums I picked up along the way, writing was always first and foremost. The journal files remain, organized by topic (this was the ideal way to do things, my 11 year old self decided, so this is how my 22 year old self does them).

However, around the age of 15, the written documents began to take a backseat. Joining high school yearbook sparked my inner photographic fire and my identity as “the girl with the camera.” From then on, I kind of lived my life through the lens of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” I recorded everything so I could remember it all, holding onto my high school life.

I’m no stranger to change—I have moved nine times throughout my life and have learned to really embrace it. By the end of my junior year of high school I was ready to move on once again. I wanted to leave California (never really wanted to be there in the first place) and I wanted to start over. I was so eager for my senior year to begin and end as quickly as possible.

So, when I sat down with Father Neenan on that day at the end of June, he told me the story that stuck with me so closely: of a friend from his youth that looked forward every month to changing the page on his calendar. After noticing this a few times, he stopped to reflect on it—his friend, he realized, never really appreciated the day to day, just kept looking forward without considering the present. His advice to me was not to simply turn the page.

In a journal file from the beginning of my senior year of high school, I write “So, Kristen, enjoy. Don’t just tear off each calendar page. Seriously appreciate every time you walk into Jillian’s house, every time you get to put on purple face paint, every time you have to get out of your cozy bed in the winter to go take pictures of wrestling or something equally terrible, and every time you look at your friends and think, ‘damn, I love them.’”

I didn't do a great job of that during that year in high school. And then I got to BC, joined The Gavel right away as a photographer, and about three weeks in, I panicked.

“Maybe college isn’t so great,” I thought.

I didn’t feel like I had friends, but for the first time I didn’t write about it. I kept my worries about not experiencing BC in the incredible way my parents had to myself. But life goes on and you throw up in Ubers and people help clean you up and suddenly you’re picking your Mod with the people you were looking for when you came to BC in the first place (8A*—I love you guys).

For better or worse, I wrote almost nothing for three years. In fact, it might be a surprise to people, particularly on The Gavel, that I have ever written anything at all. I have stuck pretty firmly to my sports photography and Creative Manager duties. But something was definitely missing.

Most of this article was written right after the end of my junior year at BC, on the night before 2017’s graduation, when I made the resolution to give writing another go. It’s “the end,” right? I have to really try this time. (And I’m extremely salty about the fact that I have no records. Joke’s on me.)

I have come to realize that the videos and photos I have compiled throughout my senior year can often come across as superficial. While I love media, words have come complete the picture. How else would anyone know that I felt pretty lonely for half of junior year, or that I made a tough decision sophomore year that I thought I’d regret but never did, or that it took living in the Mods to make me fall back in love with BC senior year? It sure doesn’t show in my photos or videos, especially those on social media.

A Jesuit education includes countless points of reflection—something I’ve become well acquainted with over the last four years. I thought that just thinking a lot, being involved on campus, and continuing to capture moments visually was enough. But after picking up writing again for my senior year, I’ve been able to slow down and appreciate things—all of the things, good and bad, sad and happy, hopeful and reflective. My favorite moments have become the little ones – the ones where I look at my roommates, laughing at and talking over each other, and think to myself, “this is the good life.”

I am, in a manner of speaking, forgetting to turn the calendar page. And, oh look, it’s graduation.

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