Graduation season has tip-toed its way on us yet again. I have one more year of college left, and I am so thankful for all the things I have learned, people I’ve met, and memories I’ve made. I also constantly wonder if I have taken advantage of everything and think about what is left to accomplish.
In general, it’s a relief to complete another year and start a new summer. There will be reading, internships, work, and preparation for senior year to keep my mind more than occupied over the next three months. By the time I stop missing school it will be time to return again. Yet now, as social media explodes with images of joy and sentimentality over graduation and Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of my senior friends. If only I could package them in a little bottle to carry with me on this journey.
However, I have discovered through lots of thinking that I would never want them to stay here in this one place, where possibilities are endless but the stability of a single location is, at last, confining. No, I want them to become all that they are meant to become, to be happy and share their personalities and talents with other people. What good would my selfishness be to keep them here? How selfish would that be when not even I want to remain here forever?
But graduating is scary. It’s a different kind of scary than high school graduation is for a college-bound student because there is sometimes less certainty, less knowing where you’re going afterward, less promise for provision. College (on campus living specifically) is a posh little place to be: a world where people cook your meals, wash your dishes and teach you things. Where the buildings are kept manicured and no one asks for the rent or the light bill. The hardest thing that’s asked of you is to wake up on your own, clean your dirty laundry and do your schoolwork — we call that being a grown-up. But is it really? I still get overly excited when there’s chicken nuggets in the dining hall and don’t know how to properly pack my belongings before coming home (we are all a work in progress). Graduating is empowering, exciting, admirable, but it’s also a big step that requires support.
You can’t say a place that’s had a huge impact on who you are won’t be hard to leave. It’s natural to want something that’s been so exciting and good to last forever. It’s natural to want people who have left ripple effects on your heart to always stay around. And it’s absolutely understandable to have no idea how to say goodbye. I love everyone I can and I give all that I am simply because I may never cross paths with someone again. The biggest thing we realize when we graduate is that we don’t know when we’ll see someone again, we don’t know what will happen to “us.” Raymond Chandler said “to say goodbye is to die a little.” It can certainly feel that way when you’re leaving someone, and thus some people don’t want to say goodbye. I think it’s much better to accept that you will miss someone, that maybe you’re scared, and let what’s unspoken be felt.
I have been blessed with the chance to see people off, and I have been enormously blessed with the one thing I can always have with me: my memory. I am a softie: a sentimental dreamer, sincere, nostalgic and I do not wish to change it. Our memories are special because they are just that: memories. The rarer the moment, the further in the past; the sweeter the thought. These people are rare in my life because they are so few. This place is special in my heart because there is only one. And these experiences I have are like no other because they happen once in a lifetime. As humans, if parting makes us sad, then we are truly blessed beyond measure, given something to cherish that is far more than we deserve.
In the Paiute language there is no word for goodbye. I like that. I told no one goodbye this week, why be sad and final? I simply offered a warm hug and smile and said “see you later.”