July 3rd, today, and it’s been a little over a month since I graduated from Swarthmore. I’m not sure who would read anything I’ve written here, but I am consigning myself to the possibility that no one does, that all this was and is for my own good, an excuse to write in the midst of what is always an inexcusable urge.
I haven’t written for quite a while here, actually, but I’ll gloss over the formalities of bullet-pointing my life or sharing jocular updates that will do little to capture the constant shifts in my universe. Which has expanded by the way. That’s one thing I can say with certainty about graduating: my universe has shifted and expanded to accommodate the unbelievable totality of my finishing up formal education. I mean, who knows, I might play more rigorously with the idea that I’ll go get myself a Ph.D or a law degree, but for now, I am more than happy to meditate on the open-endedness of my life.
All twenty-somethings feel this, right? The yen to do something big and dramatic and symbolic and imbued with adrenaline. I tried to convince my parents to let me go and teach English for a year in Turkey, or Bolivia. They said I’d had my fill of travel when I went abroad. I should’ve traveled more. But I’m really too young to even feel a dab of regret, so I’m working mainly on cultivating gratitude. I’m living in New York City with the diploma that says I graduated with High Honors sitting pretty next to other, less industrious accolades.
I got a really beautiful catalog from Swarthmore in the mail the other day, detailing its history and notable graduates alongside vivid photos of graduates from the year before mind. The theme was about it being an “intentional community”, a “community of purpose. For a little while, I felt the overwhelming disquiet of nostalgia. I wished I’d spent more time at the college, instead of spending an entire year abroad. I wished I’d been even closer to the Administration, finding a first-name basis with secretaries in every department. I wished I’d taken an art class, a photography class, a literature class. I wished I’d acted in a play, and planted a tree, and competed in the Crum Regatta. But I caught myself. I am always hard on myself. I did a lot — not everything I could’ve done or wanted to do, but quite a lot. I practiced and competed as a sprinter with the women’s track team (albeit for a grueling spring semester only), and I was the opinion’s editor on The Phoenix, writing the staff editorials each week. I spoke in front of audience and into a microphone for the first time in a long time, a massive one at that. Performing a spoken word poem before the visiting spoken word poet Andrea Gibson performed her ow, I’d forgotten every word at that moment, improvising blindly. I’d gone one to try and really elevate myself in this new craft … but all the turmoil of a senior year turned the excitement into a burden. Even Senior Week, the week before graduation, was seven days of firsts — at the aquarium, and on rollercoasters at Six Flags, and then tubing down the Delaware River with friends new and old.
And then graduation found me full-circle and I was the first one to graduate in my class, my full name called like the ribbon to my life’s opening being cut. Still, Professor Ayse Kaya, told us at Last Collection that she had news for us: “our life as already begun.” She’s right. She’s always right.
But, still, again, I’m not the same person who began college, and then transferred to begin again, and then went abroad to begin yet again. Each time, the beginnings have segued into a beautiful, new kind of beginning. This time, it’s no different.
like anyone who graduate Swat will tell you: “every new beginning, comes from some other beginning’s end.”