When I think about it, this year has been pretty epic. I spent a semester in Brazil and learned portuguese pretty well. I came back and held a winter term project (although it didn’t end up where I wanted it to be). I made new friends and reconnected with some old ones as well. I saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo for free. I went to a Bill T. Jones dance performance. I was accepted into 3 out 4 grad schools that I applied to for public health. I choreographed a piece for a play and was in a play in a theater space. I went to numerous recitals and concerts. I saw and met the Foreign Exchange. I saw Bill Cosby and Stevie Wonder in the same weekend (Stevie from the first row). I wrote a 30 page paper that could easily have been 60+ given more time. I ate in a co-op. I had a violin recital. I played the Bach double on a whim at the last Soul Session of college on someone else’s violin while slightly inebriated. I laughed and cried a Black Senior Appreciation. I found out about Krieg’s frozen custard (VERY epic). I went wine tasting with old friends in OHIO nonetheless. I went to New Orleans with new friends. Celebrated Mardi Gras. Went out and had fun in the middle of the week. I played a lot of capoeira. I had a LOST marathon with friends and a case of Corona while bingeing on food. I rode one of the fastest roller coasters. I went to Chance Creek. I went to the reservoir. I went to the Arb at night and early in the morning. I saw Saturn. I worked at a new job. Lived off campus and had crazy housemate drama. I played the Passacaglia at Black parent appreciation with only 2 days of practice. I went to the feve at 7:30 AM. I graduated!
The list of firsts and lasts could go on for awhile. This year has been pretty amazing and yet it was still so easy to take for granted all the opportunities, all the privileges, and all the people. It wasn’t real that I was graduating until I heard the brass players from a distance and we started walking. But it still wasn’t entirely real. I walked through the double lines of professors and saw friends waving on the sides and just started crying. I think I was more overwhelmed than anything else, that these 4 years were already over. And even as I was walking up on stage to receive my diploma, even as Dean Decatur called my name, even as I shook President Krislov’s hand and was handed that diploma, even as I hugged the class president at the end of the stage, even as I took the diploma out of the folder and took a picture with it—it didn’t seem possible that it was over already.
All semester I’ve been asking myself what the hell I’ve been doing for the last 4 years. I felt like I started off right, got lost somewhere in between–caught up with BS and people who didn’t care about me as I did about them–and then went away and came back on warp speed. Going away was probably the best thing for me, and I wish I had gone sooner. It was the best reminder of what else there is out there, that the obie bubble isn’t the end-all-be-all, that I should love myself, that I should take chances, that I should meet more people and really connect with people—that life is too short and all the drama and bullshit doesn’t matter. I wish I had gone sooner mostly because maybe this realization would’ve come sooner and maybe I’d have had more quality time with people than just a semester—but then again if certain driving elements hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have gone on this particular trip and maybe wouldn’t have had the same kind of revelation.
While there are some things I wish I’d done more of, people I wish I’d insisted on spending more time with, people I wish I had sat down with and hashed out all of our problems so that we could move on and enjoy each other—when I look back, even at just this year, I realize I’ve done so much more and accomplished more than I realized and that I have a connection with so many more people, even just in this semester alone. Graduating was the most overwhelming moment and even now it makes my eyes well up. I don’t know if I’m sad or happy-I guess bittersweet would be the word. You get worked up to this moment for four years and worked up even more during senior week, and then it’s there and it’s happening, and you don’t really get but 5-10 minutes to say goodbye to people or take pictures or celebrate this achievement, before everyone disperses. Some people leave within the hour to go home and others are so busy with family that you can’t see them either. So you walk around trying to hug everyone you come in contact with that’s a familiar face and get a picture or two, and try, unsuccessfully, to hold back the flood gate of tears that wants to erupt from your eyes.
Oberlin is a crazy place that you love and hate simultaneously. All semester I’ve been saying to other seniors, and many agreed, that we’d love to just start all over again, but, of course, only knowing what we know now. It would just be great to get to do another 4 years now that we know what’s on campus, who to talk to, which professors to work with, which departments to enter, what’s fun around here, what resources are on campus, what not to get caught up in, how to stay light hearted, and not take anything or anyone for granted. But, of course, those are the things that you learn as a result of college and that process of years is necessary to get to that state of mind. It just sucks that it takes awhile to truly know this enough to embody it, because you’re left grasping for relationships before everyone you know and love around here is no longer conveniently close by.
While I don’t think I’ll miss Oberlin itself, I’ll miss the people so much, and the experiences that you can have together in this crazy place that you may not be able to have anywhere else in the world. I hope that our adventures can continue outside of Oberlin, and that everyone can continue to make the best of their situation, aim high for new situations, and really love themselves enough so that they can love other people, but never forget about all that we’ve done and experienced together, good or bad.
I love you all Oberlin Class of 2010 (and other obies as well). This is just the beginning.