For our final issue, we chose to write about 15 places, a break from this magazine’s history of publishing end-of-year issues about 15 people. As we understand it, a place constitutes any physical space in the vicinity of Harvard, from the Weeks Bridge, to Appleton Chapel, to the Yard itself.
After a year cordoned off in our bedrooms, a return to the physical space of campus demands us to look at the physical space of Harvard. What does it sound like? Where does the sunlight come in? What emotions have we attached to its places — melancholy, joy, the flat feeling of exhaustion — and how have those emotions changed in the time since we left?
Of course, people have defined this return. We embraced and broke bread and danced in late August; packed into lecture halls and hunkered down in libraries as the leaves changed; and nearly forgot how much we had missed just sitting in a room, side-by-side, in December. But these interactions happened within a place, or rather, places — points on an ever-shifting map that every student charts anew, a terrain we collectively call “Harvard.” They are spaces we inhabit and traverse, in which we cry and laugh, create and demolish — alone but also, especially after the past year, together.
We started this semester of Fifteen Minutes with two picnics: one for our writers in the lawn by the Cambridge Public Library, and another for our editors in the Quincy House courtyard. Something about kicking off our shoes and feeling the grass under our feet, sweating under the heat of the August sun, and hearing the commotion of Cambridge streets, was electrifying. No matter how close we’d felt over the remote spring, poring over articles late into the night over Zoom, chatting in virtual writers’ meeting, even going on distanced walks — the outright euphoria of being together, the sheer force of dozens of people showing up to hang out in the name of magazine journalism, was a sensation too textured for a computer screen to evoke.
Leading Fifteen Minutes has been one of the deepest joys and greatest honors of our time in college and, frankly, our lives. As editors, it’s a bit strange to be so without words for an experience so full of wonder, so full of love, so rich in its every frustration, challenge, moment of relief. We have a habit of describing FM as “the ground we walk on and the air we breathe,” as though it is not only a single point on our “Harvard” map — 14 Plympton Street, perhaps — but something so constant and abundant it has redrawn the coordinates. Now that we’re walking onto new ground and into new air, FM will change too; under MVE and SSL, it will flourish. Place is not static; it is sought and assembled, made sweet and vibrant by the people who inhabit it.
OGO & MNW