Wow. That feels bizarre to say. Every time I say it, I have to take a big sigh afterwards, like it’s exhausting and overwhelming to even utter the words. And it really does feel that hard.
I always think memories will last forever, though I suppose part of me knows they can’t. Whatever season of life I happen to be in, I always believe that I could never possibly forget exactly what it felt like to occupy this time and space, to live within this particular version of myself.
But inevitably, time passes and details fade and the edges blur and I am left with skeletons of memories. I am so scared that this season will suffer the same fate, so I hope by committing it to writing I might be able to hold on. I so desperately want to hold on.
I don’t ever want to forget the magic of living in this house – its charm, its comfort. No place has ever felt more like home. I hope I’ll always cherish the daily couch time and the sunday nights spent watching House of Dragons with homemade cookies and the mornings spent in our robes drinking coffee and the copious amounts of laughter and love.
I don’t ever want to forget what it feels like to watch the sunset on our Ruth Drive back porch, the beauty beckoning us all to the deck one by one. I love hearing a roommate scream “COME LOOK AT THE SKY!” – I hope to always be surrounded by people so determined to see the beauty in daily life.
I don’t ever want to forget the dinner parties, where we laugh so hard I swear we could wake up the whole street. We do highs and lows and we ask each other questions and we listen deeply to each other. We talk about our pasts and our futures. Those nights always feel so bittersweet, like we are all thinking about the lasts that we are approaching in the background of the laughing. I think dinner parties are one of my love languages, because those nights are some of my favorite I can ever remember.
Recently, Mae’s mom came to see our house when she was in town, and she told me that it looked “so lived in.”
I couldn’t think of a better compliment.
My house on Ruth Drive is lived in, loved in, laughed in, and cried in. So many college houses feel just like that – like a house.
But this place? This place is a home. And I love the life we have built in it.
No part of me is ready to say goodbye to this season of life.
In so many ways, leaving high school was so much easier. I knew that no matter where life took me, I could always return to those places and those people. They’d always be there waiting to welcome me home.
But once we leave here in May, we leave – no shared geography to call us back home, back together. I can’t return to Ruth Drive for another sunset, and that is terrifying.
I adore this life I’ve built here, and I am determined to remember it all. I hope that I can.
It’s hard to believe that I really only have 6 weeks left of college.
I don’t know where the time went. It feels like just yesterday that my parents drove away from Morris Hall, leaving me, 19 and full of fear, there to build a life all on my own.
I am so, so content with my life right now. I am academically fulfilled, chasing my dreams, and learning every day. I found gorgeous friendships that uplift me and inspire me and remind me to slow down to feel it all. I have Connor, my greatest blessing and best friend. I have Pringle, who makes me giggle and fills my heart up to the very brim.
All of my days feel like sunshine – even the hard ones. All of my days remind me how lucky I am to exist in this space, with these people, right now.
It may have taken four years, but my goodness I have built a life I love so deeply here in Athens, a life I am so unprepared to leave.
And truthfully, part of me is angry that it took so long, that I spent so much of this limited time on fruitless endeavors. I starved my body, yearned for the approval of women who never loved me, longed to belong with people who didn’t value me, ignored my body and mind’s cries for help. While trying to be likeable, I forgot to be me. And now that I have returned to myself, life is so beautiful.
I wasted so much time.
I’d give anything to get it back. I’d give anything to have discovered this season of life earlier, to have more time to live it. It feels so unfair that I have to say goodbye so soon.
And the truth? The truth is that I’m terrified.
I am a person deeply uncomfortable with the idea of change. It took me three years to feel at home in Athens, and I am so scared of feeling lonely again. Most of the time, I wish I could freeze time where it is, where every day looks like crying laughing on our perfect couch and arguing over dishes and taking warm sunny walks and not missing anything or anyone. I wish I’d always feel the sense of belonging I do here in Athens. It took so long to build that.
Now it’s time for sisyphus to walk back down the hill. I hope I find the strength to start the walk back up.
I think as women specifically, there is an acute fear of time passing, of getting older. I don’t know any men that experience the same level of panic. Society tells us from all angles that our value is inversely proportional with our age. We spend countless hours and thousands of dollars to reverse the process, to not age, to remain youthful. And when we are confronted with the unavoidable reality that we are on a mortal path, we panic.
And in this season of life, I am feeling that panic. I am trying so hard to be present, but in every moment I am so desperate to hold on that I am failing to be there.
I know it’s a blessing to feel it all this deeply, to love something and somewhere and some people so much that I can’t imagine a next season of life even existing. I know it’s a blessing, but it’s also a burden, and sometimes it feels extra heavy.
One month from today I will be done with college. An alumni.
When I was a freshman everyone told me not to blink.
But I did. I blinked. I blinked and the next thing I knew I was 22, growing up, dreading the goodbyes we’re all headed toward. I wish I could make time stop.
Two weekends ago was my last home football game in Sanford. We played Tennessee, it poured rain, and it was perfect. I feel confident I will never forget that day. It was one of the best days of my college career.
I’ve been thinking a lot about change, about just how and why I remain so terrified of change. I am a person for whom it takes a long time to feel grounded. It took me over two years to find my community, my joy, my life here.
And it feels so unfair that I got such a limited time to enjoy it. It feels like we are turning off the movie at the best part.
Two weeks left.
“Get ready for the best four years of your life,” they told me. And they were right, but they were also deeply, deeply wrong.
These four years were the best four years of my life so far. They were also the hardest four years of my life. They were also the most heartbreaking four years of my life. They were also the most challenging four years of my life. They were also the most magical and fruitful four years of my life.
Maybe college is really just that – a time of superlatives. A time where we love, learn, hurt, grow, and change more than we ever have before. A time where we feel it all more deeply, where the highs are extra high and the lows are extra low.
They were four years full of all of the “most”s.
I am not emotionally ready to say goodbye to this season of life yet. But I know that these four years have prepared me to face the next one. I know that I can do hard things, that I can build a beautiful life in a place I choose, that I can handle change, that I can make friends from scratch, that I can create community and belonging through nothing but my own willpower. That I can face the world that I do not feel ready to meet.
I also know that I don’t really have to say goodbye. This season of life will come with me to the next one – the lessons, the people, the knowledge, the love. The version of myself I will move through the world as in a post-college world is a direct result of my college experience.
They were the best four years of my life, but not necessarily for the reasons I thought they would be. They taught me to love deeply, to laugh loudly, to lean on people readily, to cry unhesitatingly, to respond to the injustice in the world strongly, to follow my dreams persistently, to listen closely, to ask questions earnestly, and to trust my own intuition and resilience ceaselessly.
They were the best four years of my life because they were the ones that encouraged me to feel it all, always, without remorse.
Cue the tears. The credits are starting to roll. And Go Dawgs, always.