Seeing that seniors refuse to acknowledge the imminent graduation, hushing anyone who mentions it, it feels strange to write on the topic. More than that, though, it”s difficult to write about graduating from college because I”ve found that grand conclusions escape me at the end.
My sophomore year I was walking through the Diag by myself in sunny April, filled with love for college and Ann Arbor. I felt like writing it all down my favorite places and moments, sing praises to late nights at Pizza House, sangria at Dominick”s, my favorite professors, welcome week, cheap kegs at house parties. But I didn”t, saving it for senior year when I would be really emotional and full of wisdom. Well, here I am. No epiphany.
I remember this from high school freshman and sophomore years we signed yearbooks constantly, in class, at lunch, we would even bring our books to the beach. By senior year, we got lazy. I hardly have any signatures in my last yearbook. There was nothing or, rather, too much to say. And this year, with all the warnings and online viewings, I have decided not to run the Naked Mile. I almost ran it sophomore year, and I should have. But I didn”t, saving it for senior year, the last, nude hurrah. But it won”t happen this way. I do not think the meaning of one”s college years hits one at the end. The true appreciation comes during.
Perhaps while studying at Espresso Royale, eavesdropping on talks of post-modern thought or Jane Austen or existentialism. Or maybe the meaning came while walking across campus during a first, quiet snow, enormous flakes like gossamers illuminated by the streetlamps.
Some of the meaning was with me on my very first night in Ann Arbor, which was spent with people I had just met at orientation. Evan led us in the middle of the night through trees down into a seeming abyss of nature called, simply, the Arb, and told us a story of how someone was murdered there years back. I held on tightly to Catherine and Libby, my new friends, as we descended into the forest darkness. That”s how freshman year was, holding on to virtual strangers for support and friendship, partying with them, sobbing to them about a high school boyfriend whom they have seen in hundreds of pictures, but whose last name they do not know. Some of these friends stay Catherine lives in my house on Greenwood.
I thought the meaning would come at the much-anticipated viewing sophomore year of “The Big Chill.” My friends declared, as many Michigan friends have done before, that we would be like the characters in the movie-we would stay in touch forever and watch football games together, singing “Hail to the Victors.” But the myth of “The Big Chill” is misleading. The reality of making a huge, lasting, co-ed group of friends is improbable. Because though college does include a support system that you party, study, live, scream, cry with, it is also a time of autonomy. Through your major, your job search, perhaps your abroad experience, there is a constant search for self. Sometimes the person you are when you graduate is not the same person you were in the dorms, and that is all right. It”s a wonderful selfishness that may not be allowed for later in life, when bosses, co-workers, spouses, children come into play.
Forget a group of ten, I feel fortunate to graduate with a few friends whom I can really talk to and really trust, regardless of the changes we have undergone. I went out with these girls, my housemates, on St. Patrick”s Day. We were inebriated by noon, dancing with green tongues from the green pitchers at Touchdown”s, which happens to be the first bar I ever snuck into. The song “Glory Days” played from the jukebox in true reflective style, and I was reminded of the time I heard that song at the same bar two years prior, singing the lyrics with the same girls and my old friends the Fiji boys.
And so it goes. We have been disregarding our upcoming graduation because if we start reminiscing, we won”t stop. There is too much. So we will continue to ignore it, enjoying the last weeks by frequenting the same places we have for four years, pretending it was last year, the year before, or just two weeks ago. Anything to prevent the onset of the inevitable nostalgia we will feel for years to come.
This is Gina Hamadey”s final column for The Michigan Daily. Give her feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via e-mail at email@example.com.