Sunday, May 20, 2007

"I told you forever
I love you forever
I told you I love you
I love you forever
You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden a frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around
It's easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud..."

Here I am, on the eve of my graduation. I promised myself I wouldn't get worked up over this. "It's like a surfeit of good food and wine," I told myself. "You're full. You're satisfied. You're ready to push back from the table with a satisfied sigh."

And I am. I am ready. I know it, and William & Mary knows it. (Hence my leaving.)

But tonight, in the midst of a bunch of inside jokes that only a student of this college who has laughed, cried, sweated, and bled through four years of their life here can get, the professor addressing us at the candlelit ceremony said something serious. He said (and I paraphrase), "You're coming to a point in your life where experience fades into memory, where some friendships leave off. You have to come to terms with the fact that only a few of the folks you knew here will continue the journey with you."

And it hit me all at once that some of those friendships, those connections that I treasure as individual gems, have already ended without me even getting to say goodbye. Sure, I'll see some people when I come back next year to visit, but we're kidding ourselves if we think it's going to be the same. There is a gap that presents itself after every leaving. I've left home and felt the lack too keenly to think differently.

And on the heels of that came the thought that, in thirty years, the people that have been left behind from this crucible of change will be a photograph in my memory through the colored lens of time. Maybe I'll see their faces in a picture I took my freshman year and feel a twinge, the re-awakening of some long-forgotten feeling, the same feeling I get when I flip through a middle school yearbook and see a picture of friends I used to know and people I used to love. And, like now, I doubt I'll feel any real pain over it.

They say some things seem easier in retrospect. Right now it feels like the corollary is that they seem more painful in advance.

(I'm still flying. It's not much, but it's enough.)


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