Duke of Gloucester Street is probably my favorite street in the United States. Throughout my time at William and Mary, rarely a day has passed when I haven’t run, strolled, cidered, ranced, or otherwise aimlessly traipsed up and down the colonial mile. Franklin Roosevelt called DoG Street “the most historic avenue in all America,” and it shows. Only while running down DoG street must you avoid horse drawn carriages, fife and drummers, children running after you with wooden muskets, and hordes of matching school groups. The street runs almost exactly a mile from the College of William and Mary down to the Colonial Capital. To wander down the Duke is literally to step back into the 18th Century (as opposed to the 17th and 18th on campus).
DoG Street facing the Capital
The street is beautiful during any season, but it’s around this time during the Spring, as the weather begins to warm again, that I resume my usual midnight runs down the street after the longer days. Over time, I’ve literally gotten to know every aspect of the street. You develop favorite shops, trees, sights, smells, and sounds. I think that for as long as I live I will always be able to remember the details of DoG Street. Some of my fondest memories and conversations have been had walking up and down the colonial thoroughfare.
Tonight, though, I saw a sign. With only 42 days until Commencement, I’ve tried to slow down a bit more and take in my surroundings during my last weeks as a student on campus. Despite being excited for Commencement and the prospects of graduate school at the University of Edinburgh next year, as with any major life transition, I wonder if I’m making the right choice. William and Mary was the only college I applied to, because I knew, without a doubt in my mind, that I wanted to spend the best four years of my life here. When I was accepted, then, the choice was pretty easy. Graduate school, though, has proven to be a different story. How could any place match up to William and Mary? And with ten different schools to chose from, all overseas, how do I know I’m making the right decision?
Well – the hard answer is that you never can. When I’m leading tours I finish by telling people that although they might not believe me, sometimes you’ll just get a feeling, or a sign, that a certain college is right for you. For William and Mary, I didn’t necessarily get a sign, but I certainly had the feeling when I walked onto campus as a junior in high school that here was where I belonged. It’s a hard feeling to put into words, but, as they say, you know it when you feel it, and when you do, you should run with it and not look back.
I can’t say I have a feeling one way or the other about the comparative merits of graduate programs in England over Scotland over Hong Kong, but I can say tonight that I got a sign. As I’d mentioned, I know almost every inch of DoG street – we all do, it’s a part of being a student here. I run up and down DoG street every day, but tonight the weather was so nice I stopped at the Capital after awhile and decided to walk back up the street and enjoy the night, and the quiet. While walking along the sidewalk I happened to be looking up and came across the following:
I literally stopped and stared at this sign for a solid two minutes. I have never noticed it before on DoG street, but in thinking about it’s meaning, I do know one thing: everything is as it should be. Because I’ve seen this sign. Let me explain: next year when I’m at graduate school at the University of Edinburgh, my dorm is literally one of the closest buildings in the Old Town to the castle. See below:
University of Edinburgh – Brian’s Dorm
Note that part of the University is the main building right in the middle, and my dorm will be the building you see on the right of the photograph. To the right of my dorm just up the hill? Well, Edinburgh Castle. Like so:
University and dorm on Left. Castle on Right.
Tonight, at the end of my favorite street, at the farthest point along the mile from the College, I ran into a sign 42 days before Commencement that I’ve never seen before. The sign hangs above a non-public building that used to be a tavern in the colonial period, and of all the nearly limitless things it could possibly say, it simply reads: Edinburgh Castle.
A literal sign in Colonial Williamsburg tonight reminded me that even amidst nervousness about the closing of one huge chapter in my life and the opening of the next, no doubt things are unfolding as they should. So I guess tonight I look a page out of my own book. For all of you who were accepted into William and Mary’s Class of 2015 last week, my hearty congratulations. If you’re still in the process of deciding whether or not you want to accept William and Mary’s offer of admission, fear not. Tonight I learned that if we simply slow down, and look around, that single pivotal feeling, that one sign we needed, can pop up in even the most familiar of places.