Look for Me, Baby (But, Baby, I’ll be Long Gone)

As May 11th approached and graduating college loomed on the horizon, I began to experience something a bit odd. I began to feel… nothing unusual.

I mean, there were times when I got a little sad. But these times weren’t super significant. I remember tearing up thrice:
1) When Dr. Watkins was singing a traditional bluegrass song at our literary magazine’s launch party, as he has almost all of the past eight semesters
2) When I left my last creative writing class for the last time
3) When I drove away from my last day of work

Considering many of my friends were in a near-constant state of tears, this surprised me. I am an easy crier, as anyone who knows me can testify. I cry when I am sad, happy, and especially (inconveniently) when I’m sincere or angry. I’d been expecting a lot of ~feelings~ related to graduating. Given that leaving my semester abroad was like falling through multiple glass windows, leaving a place that’s been my home for four years should’ve been at least a little hard.

As I watched the gates disappear in the rear view window, I realized I wasn’t leaving. I was moving.

To a normal and sane individual, I daresay these are the same things. But to a military brat, they aren’t.

Leaving is when you aren’t ready, when it’s a tear that’s creating a probably permanent divide. Leaving is putting an ocean and years between you and a place full of belonging.

Moving isn’t always easy. But it’s logical. It’s goodbyes, boxes, done. It’s routine. At least, that’s how the past several moves have felt, ever since my family moved out of my hometown in 2001.

The things that tugged at my sentimentality are the things I will never have again. The things that should have made me cry–hugging my friends and parting ways–didn’t.

When I lived in Chesapeake, a girl in my youth group once told me, “It must be hard leaving all your friends.” And I said, “Not really. The people who you truly care about and who truly care about you stay with you. The ones who don’t, don’t.”

So I found my instincts kicking in, and I looked at campus with dry eyes, not knowing when I’d return, and knowing very well that it wouldn’t be the same when I go back. I won’t be the same when I go back. But four years was a long time to settle. I’ve got my friends and good memories along for the ride–and that’s not something to cry over.

I won’t say a part of me isn’t tired of byes and boxes and beginnings. But most of me is ready for another adventure.

Spring Semester 2013: Greatest Hits

It’s that time again–the time where I sum up the greatest moments of a semester. This spring was my last semester at Berry College, so it’s fitting that some of these greatest hits were the best of all four years.

  • Senior road trip and Harry Potter World with a good friend.
  • The many, many lunches and dinners on the English Department’s tab, talking with witty students and hanging out with cool professors.
  • Getting a call in the office from The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
  • Acceptance letters and emails from all my graduate schools.
  • Dinner at a sketchy but delicious Mexican restaurant with the SOUP team.
  • Joining my roommate and dear friend, Kyley, on her first flight.
  • 11:00 PM on a Thursday night when the Indiegogo campaign passed our goal of $6000 in 10 days.
  • Boston in the snow over Spring Break.
  • Adventuring into tall towers with daring friends.
  • Getting nominated as one of a handful of the best female student workers at the college.
  • My Ramifications staff presenting me with a small chest full of treasure.
  • Lunches with my coworkers–at Harvest Moon, and later at Outback.
  • Interviewing Kirsten Gates and having her story come together almost effortlessly. Seeing the story on the cover of the magazine.
  • Hanging out with Marcella and Casey after my senior reading, surrounded by English nerds.
  • The woman telling me she never understood how Rheumatoid Arthritis felt until I read my poem.
  • Wednesday nights with Michelle, Molly and Julie. Praying, laughing and crying together.
  • Receiving an award for my writing after working over five months on that portfolio.
  • Prep talks, Star Wars debates, and Star Trek discussions with Rick and Casey.
  • Fiction final with classmates wearing fake mustaches as they read from their portfolios.
  • Dr. Watkins’s hug as I walked down the street lined with professors after graduation.
  • Shaking President Briggs’s hand and walking away with my diploma.

Three Readings in 24 Hours

The last day of class also happened to be the launch party of my last edition of Ramifications—and by “my last edition” I mean the last copy of Ram I worked on as a staff member or editor. We opened the evening with a slam poetry competition that went surprisingly well (considering I didn’t even know if anyone was going to come for it). I don’t know much about slam poetry, I admit, but I really liked the poems that were performed. Afterwards we had an open mic for music and regular readings. I read one of my poems and one of my short stories, Thanksgiving in Philadelphia.

Dr. Watkins has always played old Appalachian/bluegrass ballads almost every launch party since I came to Berry. When he was singing this time was the closest I came to crying—not because it was a sad song (it wasn’t), but because for four years that’s been one of my favorite parts of the semester. So I teared up, but I didn’t cry.

Overall we had a great turnout and a lot of fun. After everyone left, my staff and volunteers presented me with a little chest filled with quill pens, inkwells and a journal. I nearly teared up again, but I held it together admirably.

The next day, “Reading Day,” I had two other readings. The first was a poetry reading celebrating the end of Poetry Month. People spread out blankets and set up folding chairs outside the library, and they had angel food cake and lemonade. Students and some faculty read their own poetry and a few favorite poems by famous authors. I read a couple of poems, including one called The Flare, which is about Rheumatoid Arthritis. After the reading, a woman I didn’t know approached me and said, “My daughter has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and your poem told me more about what that’s like than anything she’s shared, anything her doctors have told me, or anything I’ve read. Thank you.”

Right in the feels, guys. Right in the feels. It meant so much to me to hear that.

Later that night was my senior reading. The other creative writing majors and I went out for a pre-game to help people relax. (I relaxed over a big glass of tea—others chose different drinks.) It was interesting chatting with people who’d been my classmates for years but who I hadn’t really hung out with before.

After prep talking each other, we went to the reading. It was in the fancy Ford living room, which has a lot of Italian art and stuff. There wasn’t a huge turnout, but that was fine with me. Everyone did great. I read an excerpt from my 20 page short story, Bloodroot Blooming, and a little bit from Naan in the Afghan Village. We hung around afterwards eating the snacks and talking to professors and generally just goofing off. It was a lot of fun, and having so many readings this semester has helped me overcome some of my fear of reading in front of people. Perks of being a senior?