As I started preparing for my drive up to Buffalo, a whimsical thought hit me. I realized that I wasn't saying goodbye to New York City anymore. Instead, this felt more like I was saying goodbye to Buffalo. It meant it'll be the last time for the things I've come to expect as normal and regular occurrences. I used to be able to say things like "I can always go next year" or "I can't wait to do this again next year" but this time I can't. Every annual event that passes now will be something no longer annually, at least not for me. This wasn't about me leaving my home of fourteen years anymore. It's about leaving my home of four years and that's not something easy to do. It just somehow feels right to say an early goodbye because I think it'll be too hard when the time actually comes. For me, Buffalo became the place where I learned how to do so many things, from simple tasks like doing laundry to more complex things like driving a car. The weird part is that all this learning came outside of school and classes. From arguing with roommates to having midnight pasta dinners, these are things experienced once and usually only once.
What I learned from my professor concerned less with book knowledge and facts but rather in how to deal with someone who has supposed authority over you. I wondered why certain professors said certain things. At times, I questioned their methods of teaching, yet questioning even that was also part of the learning process. From the things they would type back in emails, I got a sense of the person they were - succinct, respectful, or even dull. I passed time in my boring classes by spending time on my tablet. For the professors I found interesting, I might peer over my tablet every once in a while but never too often.
Perhaps most ironic of all? Despite never finding someone to call mine, Buffalo has taught me to love. I have friends who do things I despise, people I dislike to this very day, and a constant influx of different challenges that consistently tempt me to give it all in and start hating. Yet, through it all, I've learned how to love people who aren't as fortunate as me, and through this love, show patience in hopes of change. I've done it all, be it emergency phone calls at the most random of times and annoying requests people make but I realize nobody else will do. It's a weird type of love that's shown through this but one that is perhaps most prevalent and true of them all.
Best of all, I've been loved upon. I remember going through my first month in college and wondering how these upperclassmen could show such selfless love. Thinking back, I have no idea how they dealt with freshmen me and all my stupid little antics. They stuck with me through my petty loves, melancholic disposition, and self-destructive mind. It doesn't seem like love when you don't get the girl you want but it is when there's an unbreakable wall of support ready to hold you up when it all falls down. The guys I grew up with in Buffalo have been anchors in a lot my problems, serious or stupid. We've all seen the change in one another, the few who've fallen away and the many who have decided that this group of guys is absolutely worth it. These are people I can carry with me throughout this life and to eternity.
Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind. If people don't talk about me five years from now, that's completely okay, as long as the things I've helped built are still built upon a strong foundation led by excellent leaders. It's a little like an investment, where I give it my all for the incoming freshmen so that, a few years later, the new incoming class can look upon the freshmen I led and say "now that's a man of integrity and of a different light."
People were right when they said I'd grow attached to Buffalo. I hate to admit it but there's always a piece of me that'll light up when I hear the words Western New York because I know I was one of them. When I finally do leave, I'll miss driving on streets untainted by traffic and a mess of drivers. I'll think back to the pains of freshmen year and be glad I never made the rash decision to transfer. Ten, maybe twenty years into the future, I'll look back and be grateful for my body and its ability to stay up until 4AM for multiple nights. The days I cried and the nights I smiled will always have a hint of Buffalo that's simply irreplaceable.
So, yeah, it's going to suck when May hits and my undergraduate career is over. A part of me will wish I failed a few classes or changed my major so I could stay a few more years but the other side of me will realize that moments like these are only best when made natural and in God's own pace. Until then, I'll say goodbye to New York City one last time and look forward to my annual events.
See ya soon, Buffalo.