English Reading Series

Reflections on the Cement Planter Boxes,
East of JFSB

by Sam Jacob
Class of 2021

One evening in the early spring of 2018, I found myself not sitting, napping, or studying on these planter boxes, but walking atop one of them while on the phone with my parents. Being the kind of person who tends to pace while taking phone calls, the cement walls offered a reassuring sort of walkway on which I could mindlessly stroll as I talked. Striding to and fro along the narrow planter, I informed my parents that I had decided to try and pursue a PhD in English. I had emerged twenty minutes earlier from my last class of the day filled with an electricity of sorts, a tingling sense of conviction about how I wanted to shape my life and future. At first, I was unsure of what I was feeling, for very few of my life decisions had been accompanied by as strong a sense of external clarity, of rightness. Yet as I trooped along the oval-shaped path, these feelings of vocation, of being called towards something, settled deep inside of me. Every lap I completed along the planter box felt like the gentle revolution of a whisk folding vanilla into whipped cream, each circuit along the cement footpath smoothly enmeshing that call from somewhere—from Someone—deeply and firmly into my heart.

Excerpted from Sam’s Humanities Center post, “A Field Guide of Campus Locales and Associated Memories,” 4/12/21.