Classes begin Monday. As a senior, where does the time go, I know that I’ll inevitably be subjected to a bombardment of nostalgic friends and acquaintances saying “Last first day of classes!” and taking nostalgic photos and all the other softly endearing and only occasionally infuriating nonsense that young people like to do to pretend that they are growing old.
And this only marks the beginning. Soon it becomes “Last fall term!” and “Last apple picking!” before it snowballs into “Last time sledding down Bell Field with my nose hairs frozen stiff” and “Last time I leave my binder in a room in Laird and have to wait around until the next class leaves because I’m too awkward to interrupt the discussion”. And in the end everything becomes a last and we’re all stuck sitting around counting down those last few precious moments of being undergraduates at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Carleton. I’ve been in love with it ever since my tour some four years ago in the high heat of summer. Sayles under construction. Leaves in their full bloom. Hearing about Toph and the R2D2 Goodsell for the first (though not the last) time. And I can be as nostalgic as the next fellow.
At the freshman talent show last night I couldn’t help but be pulled back to the time when I had long hair and was silly enough and reckless enough to play Adele in front of a bunch of strangers. I remember sitting next to Evan McNeil who was playing the bagpipes, and I remember being told after I got back to my seat (shaking only slightly) that I should think about auditioning for a cappella. And it’s funny because I hadn’t even considered it before and probably wouldn’t have tried out if I someone hadn’t suggested it.
Point is, I understand the impulse to return again and again to the moments that define our time here. I know that as human beings we are pulled ceaselessly back into the past. But for me personally, I would rather stay committed to embracing the time I still have, seeing it not as the final in a series of events, but the first of many many defining moments still to come.
It’s all very cheesy, and, as Rebecca pointed out, just a less efficient way of saying “YOLO”, but I would like to see this year not as the end but as a beginning. So for me, there will be no “lasts” and only “firsts”.
Tomorrow when I walk into Weitz, as I have many times in the past three years, it will not be the last time I begin a term at Carleton but the first time I get to take a (full term) class with Matt Rand, the first time I meet some of the people in my class, the first time seeing a particular screw or strange quote projected on the wall by the main stairs, the first time breathing this particular air with these particular cells in my lungs. And frankly I can’t wait.