Shortchanged

Five in the morning is in that span of time I typically think of as “oh fuck no it’s early,” yet this morning, against all odds, I started stirring around 5:10. Rachel had a flight to catch, and was going to be waking up and getting out of bed in five minutes, but for those five minutes, I was awake by myself, in the stillness of the morning.

I love summer mornings. Summer nights are hot and muggy, leading you to throw windows open and blankets off, but at five in the morning, the air breezing through your window is refreshingly brisk. The oppressive heat pauses, and the whole world takes a breath. Though the window’s open, there’s hardly any sound of traffic or human activity, just the songs of waking birds far in the distance.

I laid in bed this morning and thought, and when Rachel got up and left for the airport, I thought some more. I’m about to be a graduate of a liberal arts college, which means that I’m among that bizarre group of people for whom thinking is actually a pastime, and for me, it’s a common one. Rachel has always remarked on how quickly she falls asleep compared to me, and although part of that is no doubt due to my undiagnosed sleeping problems, I think more of it has to do with my fondness for pondering. I’ll spend easily a half-hour each night mulling over things in my head—thinking of the people in my life, the things I’ve done or want to do, and generally allowing my consciousness to roam free. There’s nothing more soothing to me than letting my mind wander–at least not in times of relative ease like now.

This morning, unsurprisingly, I was thinking about graduation. It’s been a week and a half since my last undergraduate class, and about a week (depending on how you count it) since I finished my last final, and only now has it really started to sink in that I’m done. I’m done. I’ve been an undergraduate for four years, but that’s over–I’m mere days away from the “Real World,” where I have to get a job and fend for myself and actually be an Adult™.

Naturally, there are a lot of thoughts that come with this realization, and I’m sure I’ll write more on them in time, whether here on my blog or in my personal journal, but at the moment, I’m particularly thrown for a loop by the big social shift about to happen. So many of my friends are about to scatter to the winds, and the prospect of “losing” them, whether or not they’ll actually be lost, is, well, scary and sad.

It’s easy to point to a dozen or more examples, but one sticks out in my mind. In the last week and a half, I–rather unexpectedly–got to know an acquaintance, a fellow sociology major, far better than I ever had in our four years prior. Spurred on by the looming finality of graduation, we filled our schedules with time together, and in this very short period, learned a lot about each other and got a lot closer than we had been.

Just yesterday, she sent me a note on Facebook, a thank-you and a hopefully unnecessary farewell. I responded in kind–there aren’t words to express how grateful I am that we had the opportunity to get to know each other as we did–but was completely unprepared for the difficulty of sending that note. Even if we stay in touch, which I sincerely hope we do, something is ending. Thinking about leaving her, or any of my other friends, feels like pulling magnets apart. It’s not right. Clearly, this is contrary to the way things ought to be.

I know that resistance to change is a thoroughly human trait through-and-through. I’m just surprised that it’s finally rearing its head. I’ve spent so long this year feeling done, feeling ready for the big shifts, but now that they’re a weekend away, I want to scramble back into the familiar and clutch all of my loved ones to me. Can’t we have one more big party, where the crowds dancing to the stupidly loud music are so boisterous and full that we have to perch on the mantle above the fireplace while we sip beer from our red plastic cups? Can’t we stay up once more until beyond the crack of dawn, the sheer verve of our conversation about life–at least as we twenty-somethings understand it–fighting back the tides of fatigue? Can’t we have one more potluck, one more seminar, one more moment together?

No matter how hard you try, there’s never enough time. When the end comes, you’re always a moment short.

Of course I’m grateful for every single moment I’ve had here, and I know somewhere that this is not a death, just a metamorphosis. But change is scary, and all I want to do right now is hold my friends’ hands and resist it with all our might.

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1 Comment

  1. Mom

    Ah–the bittersweet tide of change is washing in, isn’t it? Your words are tender and honest. I hope that you can hold on to the sweetest of times you have so fully experienced in these past four years as you step into the next chapter. Your best friends and your best memories will always be within reach.
    Congrats Adult!!

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