Senior Retrospective: How do I say goodbye?

In my four years at the Misc, I have copy-edited and made posts about hundreds of articles, yet I have never written one myself. However, I knew that I wanted to memorialize my time at Vassar in some way through a senior retrospective. I have been thinking a lot about how to articulate my emotions surrounding graduating, but it’s as if I can barely remember past the beginning of the pandemic.

When I returned to campus this past  August, it felt like a 3D model of my college career. The academic buildings were in all the right places, but they did not feel real. I could look at them but not enter. The tables and chairs by Express, where I used to spend hours working and chatting with friends, were gone. I did not step foot in the Loeb, my favorite spot on campus, for months. Production nights in the Misc office seemed like distant memories.

I felt, and still sometimes feel, a dull, suppressed pain every time I thought about the things I used to do, places I used to go and people I used to see. For months I felt like I was walking through memories, instead of creating new ones. I mourned my pre-pandemic life at Vassar, but eventually I established a new one.

At the beginning of the school year I wondered how I could say goodbye to Vassar. I’ve never lived anywhere else except for my parents’ house, so I don’t know what it’s like to leave a home and not return, at least not for a long time.

At a Misc Editorial Board meeting a few weeks ago, our check-in question was “What is on your Vassar bucket list?” When I considered how I would respond, my mind was pretty much blank. Even though my heart ached for the normalcy of my first three years of college, I was at peace with my time here. Sure, I wish I could have attended traditional senior events, but honestly, all I wanted was to turn in my thesis and graduate. Yet, I still felt like I needed to spend time saying goodbye.

I am a sentimental person, so walking around campus over the past few weeks has been emotional. Did you watch the “Hannah Montana” season three finale? It’s the episode when Miley stands outside her old home, peers wistfully into the window, kisses her hand and then waves goodbye. Basically, that has been me every day over the past couple of weeks. I recently went to grab something from the Old Observatory, and as I walked out, I realized it would probably be the last time I stepped foot in that building. As I walked out of the lobby, I looked back and took in the staircase I used to climb to attend class.

Last Wednesday I made my last ever Misc social media posts. I didn’t realize one could get emotional posting a couple of comics. Apparently I can.

On the other hand, I did not feel as sad turning in my last final the next day. But the nostalgia still overcame me as I hit “Send.” 

How have I said goodbye to Vassar? Weirdly, the distance that the pandemic created between myself and my memories made it easier to accept that it is time to move on. Miley ended the finale episode slowly walking away from her house, but smiling as she left to see her new one. Looking forward to the future has come slowly but surely for me, but it has come.

I guess my next step is figuring out how to come to terms with the fact that I just referenced “Hannah Montana” in my senior retrospective.

 

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