The book was not that remarkable, aside from the compelling title. It was about a little Inuit girl going clam fishing somewhere in the north. The title, however, was very catching: The Very Last First Time.
Things are only truly novel one time. They may be enjoyable, fun or even exciting, after they become routine, but they can never become new again. You only have one first time.
My first year at college is completed, accomplished, lived and I can never relive even a second of it. I have experienced my full and complete, very last, first year at college. What a year it was.
I uprooted from quiet Monterey and transplanted myself into Chicago’s south-side. I had glimpses and ideas of what to expect and that was foolish. The best moments, without a doubt, were the times when I forgot to worry about my expectations and chose to embrace the moment.
I like to think that I became a seasoned CTAer, at least in some regards. I logged a lot of miles, a lot of time, a lot of memories on the buses and trains. Starting with those first few times, when I skulked around in a whelming flood of oversensitivity and fear. And culminating with yesterday, when the sky was dark with thunderstorms and my fellow passengers & I commiserated about the lightning and rain. We were all going, not to mention coming, from different places, yet, we were able to connect, laugh, talk, for a short time, as the droplets streaked across the windows and the water splashed loudly underneath the wheels. Every stop we welcomed new, wet friends, and said goodbye to those that were departing.
The thing about the CTA is that it will be a part of my life for as long as I am a student. More faces and stories are yet to be seen and heard on the redline tracks (at least, I sincerely hope so.)
The office. Much has already been said about this place that defined my life for the past five months (not in this post but past ones). At some point I realized that I was here, and decided to make the most of it. More could be said, but even as I prepare to leave, I hardly feel as though it is concluded.
Needless to say, school is not over, it is just on a break. Yes, it is (shockingly, amazingly, unbelievably) 25% complete. But it is not completely finished, just for now; sometimes, however, done for now can feel a lot like done for good. In a way, school as I experienced it this year, is gone forever. I will be in the dorms and involved on campus life much more in the fall: no more long commutes to evening classes, no more eight week terms, and no more classes with people from the community. It will be a different place that welcomes me come august, but not a completely foreign place. Autumn will feel a lot more like building a second story than laying a new foundation.
As this final week dawned on me, I decided I needed to conclude correctly; to make it to the end of the week and be able to hand myself a perfectly wrapped gift entitled: your first year at college.
Only, I’ve been tired when I was spending time with friends. And I overslept one morning. And I missed a bus and had to stand out in the rain. And my rope is not completely congealed at the end; in fact it is a little frayed.
But, that is life.
I have come to the end of year one. Moments and milestones have been stored away as memories, and I will begin building again in the fall. No, not everything started, happened, or ended the way I might have planned it. In the end, however, I have learned more lessons than I can count. But it has been loose end learning. Not wrapped up nicely for me, nor meted out so I could always stand up during the process. No, it’s been loose and inconclusive and unfinished and fully beautiful.
I have a hunch that the Chicago grindstone has not finished wearing me down. There will be more pain, more tears, more strife & struggling and in the midst of that the joys will get higher and higher and I will barely be able to breathe from the altitude.
Bring it on.