In College Crusades, Hillary Reinsberg blogs about the confusing, complicated, and sometimes messy transition between college and adulthood.
The past week of my life has been replete with “last”s. I returned from my last college Spring Break adventure; I got drunk on a patch of grass wearing all green with two hundred of my closest friends for presumably the last time and one final time; I paid my …..
With all this taking about finishing, you’d think graduation was tomorrow. Actually, it’s not for two months. But with the uncertainty the lies ahead, and the next-step taking that will likely ensue, nostalgia is king among my friends who will soon hold BA and BS degrees in one thing or another.
“You’re not going all out for St. Patrick’s Day this year? But it’s the last one!”
“How can you just go home for Spring Break? You’ll never get to go on a college spring break again!”
It’s true – the era of week-long bacchanals and sorority initiations is going by the wayside, and presuming I graduate on time (fingers crossed), will be never to be seen again.
I began considering the notion of last-ness, at least theoretically, when I packed my bags one final time this August (I knew this wasn’t freshman year anymore when my parents decided they’d prefer to spend Labor Day at the beach than drive me to college.) As I registered for classes the final time this semester, I was relieved – to be signing up for great classes I really wanted to take and never having to see the words “Natural Sciences requirement” ever again – but also a little bit uneasy. In the most teen movie of fashions, I envisioned where I might be this time next year, when course registration rolled around.
And there it was.
I couldn’t imagine myself in suit and heels hopping a subway to work, or trekking through a foreign country, or meeting up with friends. All possible, but none certain. College is a four year adventure in routine, with “new experiences” juxtaposed on the cyclical sameness from time to time. In great likelihood, you knew by sophomore year what bar you’d be going to every Tuesday once you turned 21. Breaking that weekly, semesterly, or yearly routine is tough to do.
At the end of senior year of high school, I considered similar themes of “where will I be next year”-itude, but at the same time, I already knew. I’d be locked into college for four years, and even if they were stereotypes I’d taken from my TV consumption I could imagine the kinds of things that lay ahead. College would last about the same period of time that high school had, and I imagined it would have to be at least a better version. I knew then that in college, as in high school, there would be a last year and a last semester and a graduation involving a stupid cap and a gown that’s too long.
The only thing it vaguely reminds me of was the last year I went to summer camp. We expressed woe at the prospect of our last color war and we couldn’t imagine how life would go on without another summer at camp. It took some time to realize, but eight summers of all-girls camp was probably enough. I imagine I’ll someday feel similarly about those years of college.
But unless you’re particularly morbid, or disturbed about the apocalypse of 2012, the definitive unified last-ness comes to end after college graduation. The night before your wedding might be the last one you spend unmarried, but you’re going to be alone in that one. In all likelihood, it’s the last time we’ll hear the collective cries of “it’s the last time.”