1. Friends cry on street corners. Messy buns and smeared mascara and melancholy smiles. Baseball caps to shield the sun but not the tears. Hugs that never end. Keep in touch, they say. Visit, they say. But a heaviness still hovers. They can’t wake up next to each other anymore.
2. Moving away from what was home for four years is jarring. A dynamic experience ends, because life says it’s time to move on. To graduate. Onto the ‘real world’ — emerging adulthood. If something you love is waiting around the corner, you’re lucky. If you’re in limbo, that’s normal. If you’re thinking you might be stuck in a monotonous cycle you despise, that’s daunting.
3. One last stop at the best sandwich place on the outskirts of campus. Revel in the way the particles of bread dissolve in your mouth. The quality of the meat. The flavors of the sauce. Swallow. Savor.
4. A final hurrah at the spot that was everything for everybody. It wasn’t about the pizza or the booze or the fact that nobody got carded. It was about a communal ground. Same age. Same plight. Growing up and growing up together.
5. Bid goodbyes to the professors who inspired, stimulated, relayed perspectives, insights, and world views. You’ll go far, they say. Good luck in everything you do, they add. You’re leaving the nest. But they believe you’re ready to go.
6. Walk the steps you’ve walked every day. Under the weeping willow tree. Overlooking the idyllic view on top of the hill. Remember how the campus oozes with vibrancy in autumn and renders delicacy in the winter light.
7. Remember the faces you pass. Some faces were more prominent than others. Remember the kiss. Remember the heartbreak. Remember it happened.
8. Allow the soles of your shoes to mark the pathway to the dorm from freshman year; the building with the psychology classes; the student center that buzzes with plaid pajama pants on Sunday mornings; the quad with the frisbees and guitars and shades of green.
9. Wherever you walk, the air smells like youth. Like innocence. Like a time that will always remain inside of you, even when it’s time to leave.