The End Begins

My friend said the most frightening thing the other day. We were in my room, and I was going through the usual song and dance, excusing its typical wanton messiness by claiming, “It’s not normally like this.” This can all be traced back to Big Fat Liar, which, unfortunately, only served to convince me that Frankie Muniz is my Prince Charming and lying is cool. In actuality, my room dwells in a perpetual state of sand on the floor, papers fermenting on the desk, and clothes caught up in my covers. It is a fight I quickly gave up trying to win. 

So my friend addressed me with words I’m sure he meant to be comforting, “Don’t worry, you won’t have to clean it much longer.” He was referring, of course, to the imminent end of the school year and the great migration of students back to their parents eager for some laundry to wash.

Except, see, I’m not ready to move out. Beyond the terror of cleaning out the space beneath my bed where the dust bunnies have spawned an army and my forgotten backpack from Orientation Adventure promises an awkward conversation on return, I’m simply not ready to say goodbye. Not to my friends, not to my classes, and especially not to my beautiful disaster of a room. At home, my mother has probably already rearranged my closet according to color and donated several hundred more of my favorite childhood books to the charity of her choice, the most recent being a slightly reading-recalcitrant cousin. Here, my domain is my own, at least until one of my hallmates breaks into my room to tape more of my pictures to the ceiling.

And now, standing at the precipice of the beginning of the end, that’s what I’m going to miss the most: living on a hall with a group of people who’ve spent a year fostering and nourishing their love for each other.

In a strange twist of fate, I found myself a member of two hall groups when I moved out last winter. It is always daunting to contemplate the other paths your life could have strolled down, but looking at the ground underneath my feet, I can’t help but cherish my twisting course. To quote the captivating Darius Rucker, “Maybe it didn’t turn out like I planned. / Maybe that’s why I’m such a lucky man.”

I couldn’t have summed it up better even if I were a man. The other day, I told my friend that I was so happy, I almost felt rather sad. Putting crazy talk from Morgan aside (you know it’s getting bad when you start referring to yourself in the third person—and then in the second), I feel blessed by the people who surround me at the colleges, which will make saying goodbye to them only that much harder.

I’ve been particularly gifted and cursed in my latest incarnation of a hall group. You see, they are stricken with insomnia. If it helps to paint a picture, there is a quote on our board from when one hallmate said, “I accidentally watched an entire season of Downton Abbey last night,” as if viewing seven hour-long episodes in one night just kinda happens. They are a cheer late at night with their cups of tea and head massages and yet a perturbing reminder of my own human frailty with their vampire hours. I can only find comfort in having discovered an Amazon shipment of 500 lemon-lime energy shots hidden under one of their beds.

As time continues its ominous click, however, I am happy for each moment in which we put our homework aside to enjoy each other’s company. The paper snowflakes we substituted for real ones and the psychedelic patterns we taped together on the wall remain proof of these times. I can only hope that I will still remember the kindness brewed into the cups of lemon tea for me late at night and the delight of having sent someone on a devious scavenger hunt for their key. I hope that next year, I will somehow still be tempted into chalking my hair a brilliant blue at 2 a.m. in the morning with the promise that it will wash out after the next shower and then be ruthlessly teased when it doesn’t (and turns a very becoming algae shade of green instead). I hope that I will find people who will remember the names of my brothers or kindly allow me to keep a constant store of ice in their fridges. I want to continue to go spontaneously star-spinning where we fall giggling onto the lawn or be pulled into a game of light-up Frisbee in order to become friends with people who have rooms with badly placed balconies.

Living on a hall of other first-year students is perpetually wondering who stole your ramen or drew a mustache on your door’s cartoon character. When you accidentally and somewhat mysteriously lose your key in the gap between the doorframe and the wall, they will spend an hour fishing around in the void with your silverware (and subsequently drop both the fork and knife, prompting a maintenance worker to wonder just exactly what you kids have been up to). They are a group of people to practice handstands with, to grumpily remind that Ke$ha wasn’t meant for all hours of the day, and to infinitely borrow printer paper or toothpaste from. They are there to tackle you on your birthday and carry you off kicking and screaming to the nearest fountain, where they will ceremoniously dump you in and then desperately run off, only to graciously open the locked door to the dorm and accept a soaking hug. It’s friendship veering on family: a disaster and a delight and something just a bit beyond definition. As the air becomes thick with the woozy scent of pollen and the hummingbirds begin their dance, I must make myself a promise to continue to fight off the memories that threaten to descend at the shrieking of a teakettle or the blast of “Some Nights,” and live in the last moments here. In the wise words of Taylor Swift, “This time is ours.”

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