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Leaving Home

May 22, 2006       Packing up at the end of the year is never easy-- I can't say it's something I enjoy doing over and over again.  But this year, it's my last time.  Ever.  And even though it's hard to pack up all this stuff I've accumulated, it's even harder to pack up the four years that are behind all that "stuff." I've been able to drive home at the beginning of every summer with my stuff stored in a closed plastic bin, and then leave it closed until it's time to drive back on up the hill-- but after graduating-- let me think here-- yesterday, it's another story...
    Every time I take a picture down from my wall, or roll up a poster, it scares me to think that I don't know what walls I'll next be decorating.  Just a few hours ago, I bought myself a Hamilton Alumni keychain, and then looked at my keys and realized that I won't have any dorm keys to put on it.  Sure, my comfy room in Babbitt is just a place, and the Philosophy building is just a bunch of offices, and Minor Theatre is just a stage.  But I can't just consider these place to be those things.  I have so many fantastic memories attached to all of these places that it's very hard to leave them behind.
    Things may just be things, but the "things" at Hamilton happen to have contributed to the best four years of my life.  And as proud as I am to have graduated, I can't believe that, as of yesterday, I've now become an alumna.  My professors are no longer grading me, my schedule is no longer determined by what classes I'm taking, and my weekends are no longer devoted to college parties or catching up on that next paper that's due Monday.  And after I leave Hamilton, when my friends call me, their words will travel across signals and wires spanning hundreds-- even thousands-- of miles, rather than just checking in from across campus.
    When I came to college, I knew my life was going to be different:  I was told that it was going to be the best four years of my life, and I knew (or, rather, hoped) that by the end, I'd be leaving something special behind.  And though I'm no psychic, I have to say that those predictions have come true.  I took a risk on Hamilton-- even though I did some pretty in-depth college research, nothing could truly prepare me for what was to come.  But after four years on the hill, I couldn't have made a better decision.  Some of the things that have made Hamilton so fantastic are the things you see in the guidebooks:  the close relationships I've made with friends and professors, all the things I've been able to do that I'm really going to miss (ahem, Yodapez, Untitled, Theatre, Philosophy, KSA--that's you...).  But a lot of how I feel about Hamilton is in response to the stuff you won't find in the guidebooks, because some things you just have to experience yourself.
    Every year at Commencement, for the processional, the graduates walk through a sea of people to the sound of bagpipes.  The bagpipes are almost like a signal to the crowd-- "This is it, here they come!"  But this year, for me, it was a signal that it was time for me to move on, and to leave a place that had been so special to me, a place that had become my home.  And as soon as the bagpipes began, I felt like my heart had dropped into my stomach.  And later, as I walked across the stage at Commencement, I turned to Dean Thompson and whispered, "I'm not so sure I can do this." 
    And even though, of course, I put one foot in front of the other and received my diploma, the way I feel now is indescribable-- the only description I can attempt to make is that it feels like leaving home.  Perhaps it's the kind of thing that only Hamilton graduates can relate to, or maybe it's the kind of thing any college grad can tell you about.  Or maybe, for those of you prospective students graduating from high school, it's the kind of thing you're experiencing right now.  Hamilton's people and places have marked a very important and special time in my life.  As I pack up my room, hug my friends goodbye, and laugh and cry with them for what might be the last time for a long time, I can't even begin to say how happy and proud I am to have spent these last four years at Hamilton.  I've made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. 
    Even though I'm ending this journal, and about to leave the hill, my Hamilton experiences are far from over.  These past four years have been amazing...just the past semester alone could have inspired countless journal entries!  And not only looking back, but looking forward at what's to come, I couldn't be more excited about what Hamilton has given me.  So wrapping up this entry poses a bit of a challenge-- I'm not sure what else to say, except for one word: