Monday, August 29, 2011
A Season Will End
Yesterday evening I returned to Major University and moved my things into my dormitory, bright with excitement at the start of a new Fall semester.
It will be my last.
With every reddened leaf that floats to the ground, with every gust of ever colder wind, as the crimson of September blossoms into the orange of October and then fades into the brown of November, my higher education will be one moment closer to ending. When the white snows of December finally descend, they will cleanse the earth and in that cleansing end a chapter of my life that has proceeded now for more than five years. I don't know what I'll do.
I first came here as a Freshman in the Fall of 2006, a time that now seems impossibly long ago, and my attitude towards college has evolved much in the intervening years. As an 18-year-old first-year I despised university and dreamt only of the day when I could leave. As a Sophomore I found it tolerable if at times grating. Then my trips home started to grow fewer and farther between, and somewhere along the way I fell in love with this place, with these old buildings, and, more than anything else, with the friends who seemed to pop up around every corner. Today alone, after more than two months away, I must have had ten different encounters of the serendipitous sort that are so common on college campuses. I just can't imagine my social life being this active (or this easy) anywhere else.
Beyond that, I don't know who I am outside these walls. I arrived here six years ago as a child, and within this sphere of brick and ivy and familiarity I’ve become a young man. My time at Major University has not been without objection, and on several important counts I’ve taken issue with the school. Still, it was here that I went from an 18-year-old boy bereft of friends, self-worth, or confidence to a 23-year-old man who has all those things. That means something. This place has defined, first through fire and then through fruitfulness, who I am. Leaving it will be difficult.
So I will enjoy this Fall, my final one, and make it the best I can. I will try not to reflect on my fears or my parents, will instead throw myself into classes and sports and social engagements and all the other things that I hope will make this twilight an especially beautiful one. Track starts again on Tuesday. My first lunch with friends is on Wednesday, and my first party will probably be the weekend after next. As all this unfolds on campus I can’t help but think what will happen when I leave. I have no idea what my life will be like then, what professional opportunities will come my way or how I’ll adjust to no longer being a student after having had a backpack slung over my shoulder for twenty years. All of that is in the future, though.
For now, I’m here.