It was August, and my parents and I were eating pizza at Lou Malnati’s at the start of my last semester of college. We moved in my things to my house, set up my room. I put my things in the cupboards.
And I blinked.
Then I took all the things out of the cupboards. I packed everything up. We ate pizza again. I put on my cap and gown, walked across the stage to get the piece of paper that promises that my diploma will come in the mail soon, and went back home, where I dumped all my things on the floor.
A lot happened in that blink.
It was the fastest semester. No, not just that. It was the fastest three and a half years of my life so far. I know it’s supposed to be grossly accelerated from here on out. If the past 16 weeks were any indicator of how fast the rest of my life will go, I’ll be 30 in a couple blinks and 75 pretty soon after that.
My dad and I drove the car full of mugs, cheap Ikea furniture, secondhand pots and pans, and memories back to Minnesota today while my mom and sister and brother-in-law stayed to explore the city more. Well, there wasn’t room for them in the car. They’ll fly out tonight.
In some ways it was easy to leave because I’m interested in sleeping longer and not feeling like I have 1400 projects on my mind all at once. And knowing that I am headed into a life with no homework is beautiful.
But I left behind good friends, like the one pictured above and the ones below.
And too many others. Housemate friends, co-worker friends, professors who became friends and mentors, even the friendly cashiers at the neighborhood grocery store.
My mom asked if I wished I had another semester left last night. There’s a part of me that wants to keep learning in a group of students with a professor and to stay in my campus house. Sometimes my eyes start leaking because that life is still part of me and wants to be lived, to some extent.
“You should feel sad. Of course you’ll miss it. It’s better that way.”
I will miss college, though I know just a few months ago I was ready to be done and move on into a fully adult life.
I’ll miss the community where it’s better to not know the answers than to give them confidently. It’s better to ask and ask and ask. I’ll miss the conversations in the philosophy and English departments over writing and ideas and stories.
I’ll miss the atmosphere of spontaneity and public transportation, being able to be in a part of the city I’d never seen before (or had seen a hundred times and still loved) in less than an hour without having to brave any traffic.
I’ll miss being able to leave for work five minutes before I needed to be there, wearing whatever ! felt like wearing that day. I’ll miss working with students and the connections that came there, even when the students were working with me by force and making it apparent that they weren’t interested.
I’ll miss the three flights of stairs to my advisor’s office, not because those stairs always make me out of breath but because I always came down them feeling like I had something new to think about and feeling affirmed either in what I was working on or in my choice of major. I’m thankful for all the conversations in his office and knowing that I can always go back.
I’ll spend a little grieving time. That’s important. I’ve got to know what I’ve left to transition well. (BIG SIGH BECAUSE I HATE TRANSITIONS) And I’ll look forward to what’s ahead.
Tonight, that’s mostly sleep.