It’s not me, it’s you.
Here lies my memories, in boxes and bags, dust collected on the floor where the furniture once stood. The photos have been taken down, leaving blue marks from sticky tack upon the walls where they clung for 10 months, four years, up and down, again and again.
Here lies the remains of my growth, my laughter, the friends that have come and gone. The plane tickets, the wristbands, the ever-growing collection of t-shirts that has finally reached its limit.
You see, they don’t tell you that graduating from college is a bit like a break-up with the love of your life. It’s a tease. They line you up with pink, fresh faces running across a campus for the first time and promise you it’ll go by fast, but no one really listens. Then you blink. And suddenly, there’s a cap on your head and diploma in hand and a lump in your throat.
We don’t really cry because it’s over. After four years of cafeteria food, communal showers, FAFSA loans and Friday nights full of puking over a toilet… you’re kind of ready to go. You’re ready for change, for opportunity, to see new places and become a person – at least for a little while.
We don’t cry because it’s over — we cry because of what it’s done to us.
In just four years, we’ve become creatures completely different from the ones that entered this university. We’ve made mistakes, cried until 3 a.m., danced until 4 a.m. and found out what it means to be me. We’ve grown up, from an 18-year-old child to a 22-year-old person. The friends we’ve made here are different. They weren’t given to us by parents or class schedules or the confines of a city limit. They were given to us by love, hope and complete acceptance of our souls and not just our surfaces. These people have seen us glammed up and ready to party — but also at 2 a.m., mascara dripping, sweatpants dragging on the muddy ground. These people are family. They know more about us than we know about ourselves at times. And yet the hourglass continues to tick away, invisible for the first 3 and a half years, and then suddenly there’s only a few grains left.
They tell us we’ll keep in touch, that we’ll always be together. But deep down we know we won’t be. Life happens, to all of us. Sure, for the first few weeks and months there will be texts and video chats, adventures through rail and road to reunite over drinks and memories. But the reunions will get further apart and the texts will become shorter. Our jobs will capture our attention and we will meet new Friday night pals. Perhaps we will start a family of our own, or else explore a new city halfway across the country, or maybe the world. Soon our college memories will be behind us, and we’ll be complacent with that.
But right now, staring at the wake of graduation, packing up the boxes that hold a lifetime of memories, it’s unbearable. It’s a break up with your soul mates, your people. It’s the shadow of change that awakens our fear of being forgotten, of losing the memories and being alone with nothing but the scraps of a life once lived. It’s the knowledge that your youth is over – the real world awaits.
So for now, cheers to the future. Smile into the camera, pop champagne, dance at your favorite bar for the last time. Make the last few grains of sand last, and wait, ever-anxiously, for the glass to turn back over.