A Last Farewell
On a rather typical day at work, with my mind buzzing in numbers, my thoughts wandered toward the freedom of time I had known just one year earlier. College felt like ages ago, though I hadn't quite forgotten what it felt like to balance all the antics. I yearned, even if just a year, for any semblance of the whimsical life that college was. As always, the grass is always greener on the other side. I decided a quick weekend visit couldn't hurt. So, when I finally landed in Buffalo around a month later, I allowed the past to wash over me. I extended my youth for a few days longer, though fully knowing it would be the last time I could do so.
Somehow, it felt as if I had never left. Everything I had come to known as home hadn't changed. The iconic Tim Hortons still boasted 24/7 store hours, the one section of Sweethome Road, though better, was still scarred from countless winter beatings, and the buildings on campus looked as dreary as ever. I even dressed just as I would've if I were still a student, though that was more out of fatigue of my weekday outfits. Had my car been in front of me, I might've driven back to my house for the night. Buffalo welcomed me back with wide open arms, promising to be the part of life I remember mostly vividly, but I wasn't quite sure if that was a good thing.
It wasn't too hard to visualize a painting of the Buffalo I knew. Entering the Student Union didn't feel foreign, the houses I visited still perforated the same scents, and no one really changed. I wasn't sure if I had changed myself, hoping that the person I am now didn't seem too far off from the Kevin people knew me as. My heart attached itself to the same motions, only knowing what it felt like to gather at the mutually acknowledged "hang out spot" in the Student Union or the tendencies of decision making, or lack thereof, of the people there. Except this time, unlike the usual, my memories didn't seem all that bad. There's something about reminiscing, even the unpleasant recollections, that provides some sort of peace.
On the day of graduation, the general sentiment was that most people felt like their years in college were too short. Some people skew towards regret, claiming they should have spent their time better, and others lament the times they'll never have again. I think for most people, four years, or however many you spent in college, always passes faster than you would expect. The first day of freshman year always seems long at one point because of the realization that this might be the daily norm for the next four, five, or six years. For some, even longer. It's incredible easy to wonder about the life-altering choices we'll be making but maybe even scarier to realize we often make these decisions without noticing so.
One day we'll all leave college, and what a blessing it is to have higher education be an assumption rather than a privilege. The last time we step into a classroom will come, whether it ends in graduation or not. Somehow, it'll be evanescent and bittersweet, and that's okay. If it didn't end, we wouldn't feel the stumbling reality that the serendipitous happiness, whimsical thrills, and despondent melancholy of college have come to a finish. We need that appreciation, for without it, our first few years of adult life wouldn't be any different from the latter few. We all knew this day would be coming. I just think most people thought it'd be a lot slower.
By the time Sunday came and my flight quickly approached on Monday morning, I dreaded the aftereffects of my sleep deprivation. My schedule no longer synced to 4AM talks, McDonald runs, and video game nights. I missed it quite a bit but also knew that was only because I couldn't do it anymore. With that, I understood time didn't stop for me to come back and revel once more in the life most familiar to me. Time had passed, and the results palpable in the sadness of people saying goodbye one last time, surely wishing that this night wouldn't end. Yet, isn't this why we went to college in the first place? To come out better than before and newfound in what we know of ourselves.
Or maybe I'm just getting old.