And so graduation, less than three weeks away, looms over me as both a promise and a threat. Year-end barbeques, meetings and parties abound most of us know we should be working on that 20-page term paper assigned in January but instead we grudgingly attend. Events that honor culmination are important. Important because they are the Last Time We Will (fill in the blank). Frustrating because things that should feel significant are typically anti-climactic.

Paul Wong
Diamond in the Rough<br><br>Emily Achenbaum

This is the last time I will ever write for The Michigan Daily. “Ever,” like the words “never” and “no,” has a ring of finality to it and thus does not sit particularly well with me. My entire college career has depended on wiggle room, on second-third-fourth chances. Not a lot of “no”s” or “you”re done.” At least the “no”s” I heard were the kind where I asked mom first and she said no but if I finished my math homework and then asked dad, I was going to get to go to Sarah”s slumber party after all. Sometimes I had to walk the dog, be nice to my sister and clean the garage, but there has always been some sort of way to land on my feet, to not let things end before I was ready to give them up.

The dilemma with the Last Column is the precedent before me: The brilliant and incisive manifesto on all things wrong with the University the weathered words of wisdom on what you, young friend, should really get out of college the relevant to no one else but it”s my last column I can do what I want piece on What the Daily Means to Me. You “aren”t supposed to” throw away four years at the Daily by writing your final piece on why Hash Bash is a gross display of grossness.

Naturally, I only became irritated by the restraints the expectations of Last Column brings. After all, the true joy in having this column the thing that even unsentimental me will actually miss – is the freedom I have had in being able to write whatever I want. This is the last time for a long time (or maybe ever? Will I be a columnist in 15 years? A lawyer? Pregnant with a dark-haired baby?) I will be able to write whatever I want and publish it. What freedom! The glorious spoils of college.

I have had a chunk of text in a publication that thousands of people read. Crazy, really. I have been able to write about whatever I”ve wanted not only because this is the opinion page, not only because this is the Daily, but because this is college.

College: To which for the next month I will cling to as the ultimate excuse, the ultimate enabler. Smoking, drinking, all-nighters questionable beliefs, fashion statements, dating choices and column topics (Feminism! Depression! Guns n” Roses! God, it”s been fun) can all be forgiven with a bright smile and shoulder shrug and the panacea statement “I”m in college.” The “college” defense implies that I don”t know better, when in fact I know that responsibility is best suspended with the excuse that has consistently pardoned the actions of every generation.

College is freedom because it is life without judgment skipping class, eating at 4 a.m., participating in rallies none of this raises an eyebrow, but outside of our realm the rules are different skipping work means getting fired, 4 a.m. feedings point to gluttony, attending rallies makes you an aged hippie, the one that never really got over college. I have loved living without tangible scrutiny. I imagine you all can concur. But the freedom of college is more than weekend adventures. The best playgrounds are the ones I have found for my mind at the Daily and in, well, maybe two or three of my classes (long live NELP!). This is the freedom that I cling to the most. That is why writing my last column makes me sad. Maybe finally (finally!) not being in school is not going to be so freeing after all.

This is Emily Achenbaum”s last column for The Michigan Daily. Give her feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via e-mail at emilylsa@umich.edu.

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