Leaving high school was easy.
I’d been preparing for it mentally for 13 years. When I walked across the makeshift wooden stage at H.H. Dow High School, I knew it was time to go, because the public school circle of life had been whispering it in my ear since kindergarten. I shook hands, pocketed my diploma and promptly left town.
College is a different bird entirely. Though a new beginning is just past next Saturday, it brings with it a very self-conscious end. For us seniors, life will irreversibly be changed. No longer will we wake up for class, but for work with a boss to please and payday in mind.
This is a tough pill to swallow. Here on campus, there’s so much more to do, see and explore. I’ve done so much, but leaving college makes me feel that I’ve left the lion’s share of it untouched; never have I published a poem or joined a fraternity. Never have I jogged with the running club, worked in a laboratory or pulled an all-nighter. How that last one slipped past me, I’ll never know.
This results in some bizarre cases of nostalgia. I’ve only now noticed how many books there are in the library, how the pavement feels by Brooks and how the sun looks shining into the SAC. I’m living the last two weeks of my undergraduate career in a full, five-senses technicolor, baby, because I’ve only just realized that I’ll never get a moment of it back.
I am a seaman who has only ever thought about shore leave. All this time, I’ve been peeping over the rail, never setting foot ashore. And now, my ship is sailing. The whistle is blowing, and the crew is casting off.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen a lot of campus life, and after I’ve left, there will still be time for me to explore the world. I’m sure that sooner or later, I’ll get to the bottom of my bucket list. But, it won’t be here, because, right now, it’s time for goodbye and good luck.
So, if I could say anything to the incoming freshmen, I’d tell them to seize more of it all. Go out on Saturday nights. Speak your mind in class and work hard for the things you want. Paint your chest for football games. Be proud of your university—I know I am, and I always will be.
Goodbye, Central. I’ll miss the hell out of you.