Some of you are going to be in my wedding. Some of you are going to be the godparents of my children. Some of you are going to slowly fade out of my life over the next few years, not because we want it to happen, but because life will get in the way. Some of you, I will never see again after I walk away from this place.
But all of you have left a mark on me.
I can’t have all of you, still, when all of this is over. I wish I could, but I can’t. Because never again will life be this easy, this pretty, this effortless. Never again will I be surrounded by you, my second family, my support system – your doors just a few feet or a couple blocks away from my own. We won’t get our work done at two in the morning together, sitting on couches and chugging coffee and feeling comforted as we type our papers or study for our exams because we feel each other’s warm presences just a few feet away.
We were never alone here. We couldn’t have been, even if we tried.
But soon you’ll all be taken away from me. Not in an angry, harrowing way. Just in a this is life kind of way. You’re all going to be pulled in directions different from my own, because we’re all trying to dip our toes into adulthood, real adulthood, and this separation is part of it. We’re not going to live in six-person houses anymore, where empty bottles of alcohol proudly line the walls on top of the counters and mismatched furniture sits happily together in the family room – our own little messy, hectic, chaotic, beautiful home.
Soon we’ll be residing in little studios or two-person apartments, trying to adjust to the rough smack of the quietness that hits us each time we walk in the door after work. Never before has silence seemed so horribly loud. We’ll work to meet up for happy hours or Friday night dinners, or even cross-country weekend visits if we’re separated by that many miles. And it will seem easy at first, fun even. We’ll feel grown up thanks to our steady paychecks and our busy schedules and our weekend traveling.
But, like it always does, life will get in the way. The visits will become more rare, the meet-ups more sporadic. We’ll find new friend-families, new routines, new weekend hangouts in our respective cities. We’ll tag each other in Timehops that remind us of who we were, together, when that one photo was taken in that candid moment on that one Friday night that we’ll remember forever. I’ll think of you often when I see these little reminders, with a smile on my face. But soon we’ll simply be counting on engagement parties and weddings to force us to drop what we’re doing so that we can spend a weekend together.
Even if we do remain close, even if we fight to stay in touch and see each other on a regular basis, things are going to change. But that’s okay. Because we can’t stay here forever, in this little bubble, hidden from the very things we came here to learn about. We have to move on, we have to grow up, we have to learn to live out this friendship under new circumstances, because things are always going to change.
What I will remember as I leave this place is that it will hurt because of you. It will hurt because you brought me such joy, such laughter, and such pure happiness. You taught me things you don’t even know that you taught me. You are part of the reason that I am a different person today than I was four years ago when I arrived here, petrified and exhilarated.
If we ever come back here, this place is not going to look the same. There will eventually be new buildings, new sidewalks, new restaurants. But most of all, there will be new people. A new energy that we don’t recognize. The place that we knew will exist now only in our minds, in that piece of us that came to life the minute we stepped onto this campus. But in that way, our experience is immortal. It will always be immortal, because when it exists as a memory, a connection, an energy between you and I, it is safe from upgrades, from construction, from weather damage, from other people, from anything that would ever try to change it.
These last four years will always be here, between us, no matter what happens. That’s the safest home this experience could ever have.