We have had too much consecration,
too little affirmation,
too much: but this, this, this
has been proved heretical,
too little: I know, I feel
the meaning that words hide;
they are anagrams, cryptograms,
little boxes, conditioned
to hatch butterflies…
~ H.D., from Trilogy
Today was my last day of class as an undergraduate. When you put it like that, it seems like it should be a momentous occasion, surreal and nostalgic. But it was a day like any other, a little more blissful than most, as a matter of fact. Sunny, bright, and beautiful outside. I had a few “free” hours this Monday afternoon, which has probably only happened once before this whole semester, and my roommate and I went and laid on the grass outside our dorm buildings. The realization that it was my “last day of class” didn’t really hit me until others brought it up (Oh, social media. How ever did I realize these ‘special moments’ before you?).
But looking back on my day now, it really was special in its own way. In the morning, I had a bit of time between classes to finish up a final paper for my poetry class, and as per my usual schedule, I walked to Commons (the freshman living space on campus) where my class was, and sat outside on the patio, overlooking the lawn across from the Peabody Library. Although I had struggled throughout the writing process, the paper became a truly special project for me. I was writing about the loneliness derived from diaspora, the chance to call multiple places and people your “home,” and about the search for identity and a collective sense of belonging that I believe we all seek. Sitting at Commons, where somehow I’d spent my freshman year doing who-knows-what, attempting to figure things out, and yet admitting to myself, and only myself really, that deep down there was still loneliness stemming from moving away from home – I felt that I had, in my own way, come full circle.
Graduation is around the corner, and while there are finals to take and papers to write, the prospect of packing our lives into boxes and suitcases, and the commencement ceremony itself, time seems to have accelerated to these last few weeks. I find a certain sadness sink in each time there exist impending good-byes. At this stage of graduation, we are all on the way to somewhere, caught between departure and arrival. Greetings and good-byes wistfully blend together: Good-bye for now; hello, maybe later. I’m having a hard time with the idea of this ending chapter. I’m in no hurry to move on – I’d like to stay in this intermediate stage for a little longer. It’s a place where moments and memories seem to take on the golden hour glow.
So I let myself, in that moment on Commons, reflect on the feeling of intermediacy that I find myself in, on my way from here to somewhere. It is a mix of nostalgia and excitement, collectivity and loneliness all at once, and I’m still trying to figure out who I am, where I need to be, and in all clichéd form: what my place is in this world. Looking back, I know that diasporic loneliness has coloured many aspects of my college career, not in a negative way, necessarily, but present nonetheless. I’m able to call Nashville and the friends in my life now as “home,” just as I’ve called Colorado my “home” for many years. I’ve been lucky to leave my heart in many places, although loneliness from diaspora will likely follow me anywhere I go. Such is the poignancy that life brings: letting go, moving on, starting over, deciding to stay for awhile.
For our last day of poetry class, we went outside and sat in a great big circle on the grass, each of us taking a turn to recite a memorized poem underneath the shade to two great big trees. We were beside the side entrance to my freshman living dorm, and my poetry professor recited the poem above, an H.D. work with characteristic conciseness. It was simple and lovely and perfect for the moment. And I couldn’t help but think that although this new chapter in life may contain many different meanings for us all, maybe it’s time to emerge from our shells, spread our wings a little, and fly for the scary first time. A hatching butterfly.