vignettes from 5/30/16–6/1/16

  1. “We already have Alumni emails?!?!”

Never read your inbox the right way. Before you know it, you end up in the wispy depths of September 2012. Before you know it, you are re-reading your first email correspondence: to your parents, subject line “Hello from Princeton :)”, email oozing excitement about nothing except your newly acquired possession of an @princeton.edu email. Before you know it, you’re stuck there, uncertain for a while how to return to where you are. Moving forward is much harder than falling backwards.

2. “Why am I not crying?”

I didn’t cry about leaving my closest friends. I know that those faces will be refreshed constantly, through Skype calls, trips across the country just to spend a weekend with each other — those memories, constantly re-engraved through birthday cards and text messages. It’s not my closest friends I am saddest about leaving, because they are known pieces of me, parts that I can pick out: our way of making jokes with weird voices, the way he frowns, her quiet outspokenness. But what about the others? The other people, the places, the minor experiences, the softer words? Each of these too has left an imprint on me— I just can’t remember where, or how deeply they’ve pressed. That’s what I cry for.

3. “Hold on, I gotta Snapchat this…”

Do you ever wonder how many photos are taken of the exact same scene? Or how these photos are meant to assert ownership over the scene, even if it’s of trees and mountains and sun that have been there centuries before us? How we cannot resist trying to consume them, to own them?

How many Snapchats did you see of classmates walking out of Fitz-Randolph gates? Of your fellow alums running through the Bloomberg arch? How can you resist holding up your phone, trying to capture every last pixel of these traditions — traditions that have been there long before you? How can you resist trying to consume them, to own them?

4. “It’s so hot.” — Student(s) during Commencement Weekend

Goodbyes are found in rainstorms — but only in movies. In real life, goodbyes fall on the hottest days of the year. The sun beats down on our hair and shoulders as if to force our muscles and hearts to go limp in the heat. “Relax,” the sun says, hypnotizing us with its glowing teeth and hazy breath. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe, the heat essentializes us, saps away enough energy so that we’re left with just enough to say only what’s necessary. Forces goodbyes to be shorter, subdued.

5. “Wait…so that was my last class…ever?”

There are times in your life when you just don’t want to look at the calendar. When the dates ticking by are best left unacknowledged, lest you inadvertently start counting down, a sure-fire way to lose your mind. So don’t think about it, just enjoy the days as they go by, they said.

Until even the lasts come and go (we aren’t counting down!). You finish that last paper just as sloppily as you usually do, and almost turned it in late because you were 10 min late to the last class (another usual occurrence). The last one — not at all ceremonious, not at all meaningful. Especially since you didn’t realize those were lasts until 10 days after, sitting on a beach, paging through a book that you meant to read during that class but just now got around to. And you wonder — would realizing them earlier have changed anything?

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