The finality of graduation is a reality I find myself struggling with, and I believe it has caused me to become a person of intense sentiment. There’s now a slowness to my walk as I make my way through campus, as though each measured step has the power to etch all the life happening around me into the grooves of my brain. I can see it all happening so clearly, and not just as it happens now but as it happened before.
The dry patches of grass become covered in marble snow and I watch myself clutch stacks of Dolphin issues against my chest as I walk briskly to deliver them across campus, as I did almost every other Thursday since my freshman year. I can hear bubble wrap popping inside my left knee as I pass by Ted Grant Field where the women’s lacrosse team practices in the afternoon heat. When I open the door to Grewen Hall 100, the day curtains to black and P.O.W.E.R. members are scattered throughout the room, dancing to “Kontrol” as they wait for the meeting to begin.
Everywhere is a mural of experiences, triumphs, disappointments. Every professor molded from classes taken, grades given, and words exchanged over semesters. Each friend becomes a question of time, of whether I will know them in the same capacity as we move past Le Moyne and quiet wedges itself between us. I think that’s the hardest part, to know my friendships can’t exist in the same condition they have for the last four years.
The feeling of finality is inevitable when faced with graduation, and I feel it most when I’m with my friends. When we’re sipping on iced coffees and concertedly chewing hashbrowns while doing homework in The Plaza or when we’re sprawled across the fluffy rug on my bedroom floor, filling each other in on aspects of our lives that we don’t want to leave the comfort of those four walls. It is in those moments that I become acutely aware of our existence in relation to each other and how our interconnectedness will alter when we graduate.
Those same friends also become answers, because I know I will work to maintain those friendships. I’ll do it because I want to know who they’ll become, who they’ll love, and how they’ll live. I want to see them through it all.
Today, I found myself sitting in the dried lawn in front of the library for hours. Over the years it has become my favorite place to sit on those unusually warm Syracuse days. When I sit here, it feels as though I can see all of campus. I used to feel suffocated by the thought of Le Moyne’s compact size, but that suffocation has opened up into comfort. Here, I can see all of campus, and I swear, I can feel the pulse of Le Moyne. It’s where I catch Jim Foster waving from inside his cart as he drives by and see Fr. Bucki capturing a moment on his iPad and gently smile hello at the people I haven’t spoken to since sophomore year as they pass.
When I committed to Le Moyne, I couldn’t properly articulate my decision; why I wanted to come to this small Jesuit college that was often overshadowed by the magnitude of SU. I couldn’t pinpoint it, it was just a feeling. Four years later I have a word for that feeling and a full understanding of it: Community.
It’s a circle of people who make you feel welcomed. Where professors take an interest in you and are even willing to listen to you cry about your struggling personal life. It’s a genuine concern for who you are now and who you will become. Returning each year was a reunion, with more and more people to hug as you walked the distance from your dorm to Grewen. It’s comfort and familiarity; and then one day, it’s time to leave and you begin to remember that the rest of the world doesn’t function the same way. That only one place is Le Moyne.
Time is a funny thing: It’s tricky and indeterminable. Somehow it manages to move so slowly in the moment and seem so fast when you look back. And now we’re forced to relive all that college was because it’s done. College was staying up late talking with your roommates. Downing large cups of coffee to keep awake as you finished that paper due the next day. Throwing back shots before running down the bus, only to find one dollar in your wallet. Feeling your feet stick to Mully’s sweet floor as you let the music wrap around you. Falling in love, breaking up, then falling in love again—oftentimes with the same person.
College was everything. It was everything.