Around this time last year, I thought I’d be ready. I thought I’d be ready to close the books, bid farewell to the corners of this place we made our own and move on. I thought I’d be ready for a new city and the next phase. Now, I can feel myself holding tightly on to every piece of college that I can. For many of us seniors, May won’t mark goodbye forever. We’ll keep in touch with friends and we’ll come back to Ann Arbor. But the inescapable truth is that in four months, the meaning of this place will change. Though some will stay, many will not, forcing the last four years we spent together into a time capsule that can be revisited but not relived. While I still find excitement in looking forward, the impending end of college is making it increasingly difficult to imagine reaching the end of this chapter.
Over the last four years, many of us have lived in beat-up, off-campus houses with a group of our closest friends. Through that experience, along with the laughs, we learned a lot about how people operate. We learned to take pride in calling a house a home, no matter how much paint was chipping from the walls or what you imagined to be soaked into the carpet. Before long, many of us will be packing up boxes and moving in to places of our own. While the paint may be brighter and the carpets may be cleaner, we’ll miss the homes we left behind.
Many of us experienced the pull between the freedom of having money and the freedom of having time. Our part-time, minimum wage jobs may not have gotten us very far in Ann Arbor, and I imagine all of us look forward to the day we can support ourselves and have money to pursue our interests. But for the past four years, we haven’t had to show up at the office 40+ hours a week. We did have the freedom to work overtime if we chose to, which meant late night treks to the libraries and coffee shops, where sometimes a little procrastination with friends seemed like a better idea than studying for that exam. Some nights we’d ditch the books altogether and choose trivia at Charley’s, karaoke at Lep or a shark bowl at Rick’s. Pretty soon we’ll all be working real full-time jobs. Lest we forget the days when drinking on weeknights was acceptable.
The past four years have been fairly predictable. Our academic tracks were set, our weekends filled. We chose the people to surround ourselves with. We came to know this place like the back of our hands. Despite the pressure to succeed in our competitive environment, our world here became familiar and comfortable. We parted ways for the summers, knowing we always had the fall. Most of us have never been here before — at a crossroad where we can’t look a year — let alone four — ahead and know exactly where we’ll be. We can look at it as scary and really exciting. I’ve come to realize it’s OK to view it as both.
I assume that all of us can look back over the past few years and see the things we wish we would have done — the decisions we wish we had made, as well as the ones we did make, but wish we hadn’t. To some degree, speculation of the paths we chose is inevitable. More revealing though, is to look back and remember the things we did do — the choices we made that led us to some of the most important people in our lives, or taught us some of the most important lessons. And the best part is, it isn’t over. Graduating seniors — we have one semester left to do our best to make up for any lost time along the way. All good things must come to an end, but we aren’t there quite yet. Let’s give this chapter a good ending.
Sara Morosi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.