Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leaving Dayton

No tears would come. I watched us all stand around. Everyone avoided eye contact. We stood in a circle, knowing that the inevitable was here and our prolonged goodbyes were a feeble attempt at holding onto the last four years. I wanted to take everyone in my arms and hold them. Not in a goodbye way, in a loving embrace that showed them how important they were to me.

It was hardest to see James. He is always stoic about goodbyes; he steels himself knowing, I suppose, that we will be together again, and that tears are reserved for few occasions. But that wasn't a reality—this was a special occasion. And James had red-eyes and the exhausted look of someone who understood the vague future that lay ahead. Sure we would see each other again, but we had no idea when. And James was my bellwether, indicating the weight of the world.

It was hardest to hug Katherine. She melted in my arms, she cried. I have never seen her cry so forcefully. They were the powerful sobs of someone who had built a family at Skidmore and was watching it dissipate. Katherine rarely hugged me, just something we didn't do often. This moment was honest. Her hug was a gentle goodbye as well as a beautiful reminder of the strength of our friendship. And I melted back, all of the time we spent together was encapsulated perfectly in that moment—exceedingly present and respectfully acknowledged. Letting go had such finality; tangible and painful.

Kor left first, having the advantage of not being the last around. Saying goodbye to her was easy, not because I was glad to be rid of her, but because I know that I had found a kindred spirit with her. A person that would not let the world go, the person who had brought me into this community around me, and who would bring me back if I wandered astray. For all the bickering we did, she was still the pillar that held me up unconditionally.

But they are all kindred spirits—Jacob, Ben, and Natalie too. We fought our way through the world, looking to understand it in new and exciting ways, to share what our love with people that were hell-bent on making the world a better place. We were confidants, friends, supports, chefs, family, team mates. Being there was incredible because the people were incredible.