Only two miles from the front door of Redding Hall, the Newark Reservoir sits above the rest of the city as a world apart. Every time I have made my way up there, I have felt like I was part of a secret club. I have yet to encounter anyone I know around the waterside path, yet I feel a bond to the others not only familiar with the existence of this man-made wonder, but also willing to make the trek up to its surface. Whether it’s walking, biking, running, roller blading, skate boarding, or some combination of these, the reservoir is home to all who need it. Similar to the Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement, the Newark Reservoir gave me just what I needed during finals week last semester.
Anticipating the approach of a week-long exam period, I studied for my chemistry final more than I have studied for anything else in my life. I had a plan, and for once I followed through with it. By the time the day of the test arrived, I had little space left in my brain to cram any more information, and I needed to find somewhere I could stop thinking and let mind settle. Not due at my exam room until seven o’clock that evening, I hopped on my bike in the afternoon, and began to make my way up to the reservoir.
With headphones in my ears and Christmas music pouring out of them, I turned this public landmark into my private sanctuary, a safe space away from textbooks, equations, and stress. I completed four laps around the one mile loop skirting the water, my legs turning over the pedals in a rhythm that kept my mind at bay for the hour break I took from studying.
Upon returning, I was immediately thrown back into the rush of everyday life that comes inevitably to every student in college. However, I had something that set me apart. I had gone somewhere, I had done something for myself, and I didn’t need to tell anyone else about it to feel a sense of accomplishment. Without getting into a car and without having to rely on anyone else, I got myself somewhere and then back home again.
The first day of classes this semester I returned to the reservoir. After being on campus for Winter Session and feeling as though by the fifth week I had finally gotten the hang of the small school lifestyle, spring semester arrived and with it carried large masses of students back to campus. Fortunately, it also brought with it a taste of spring weather, and after making it through my first day of new places and new faces, I threw on my sneakers and took off for something more familiar. I didn’t want to escape the start of this new semester; however, my journey to the reservoir allowed me to gain a refreshing boost in confidence, giving me a sense of pride I had felt before for having gotten myself where I needed to be amid the chaos of new beginnings.
But I don’t want the story to end there; I want to share this place. Although I’ve gone with friends a few times on runs to the reservoir, I want it to be an option for more people to take a break as it was for me. At the top of the path, you will find benches looking out over the city of Newark and feel a connection to something big. You can see the Towers on North Campus and use them as a guide to orient your place in the city, to see where you fit in to the bigger picture. Everyone deserves a chance to find this for themselves and to take comfort in the fact that they belong. If you’re ever in need of a break or long for a feeling of acceptance, you should take a trip to the Newark Reservoir. Even if you’re alone, the paths there are never empty. Even if you want to get away from people, the openness there is always freeing. Even if you just need some fresh air away from the stress of studying, the cool breezes over the water offer just that. And it doesn’t matter who you are. It will always be there when you need it.
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