By Ryan Henson
How do you summarize four years in around 500 words? I don’t know but I’ll give it the old college try (and probably go over 500 words also a word of warning beware of the tear stains sure to mark the edges of this article). I’ve never really been comfortable with nostalgia, kind of like that one uncle who you see twice a year and you know you’re supposed to love him because he’s family you know but he always got a little handsy around thanksgiving.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling to look through your memories because of their strength. They threaten to pull you into the shadow of their faded images like a swift river threatens to erode the soft bank where the tree sits. They also present incomplete accounts of the real experiences they once were. All that is left to draw on is the pale ghosts of emotions and feelings that never really resurrect the sense of being there in that real moment. Ok, let’s hold up for a second, I’m kind of making myself sick with all this overwritten attempts at profundity.
What to say about four years in Chestertown, Maryland? Well first off, its barely an excuse for a town and could really benefit from more quality options for stuffing my face late on a Sunday night, there is only so much Dees (McDonalds) my gastrointestinal track can take. Still I guess it grew on me: the red brick sidewalks, the lazy sun sprawling along the misty banks of the Chester in the early morning, the diving call of birds leaving in a great wave from the dark branches of the big tree on the green, their small black bodies silhouetted against the autumn evening sky, the warm press of nights in September and walking barefoot in wet grass without any particular place to go. Alcohol factored into the picture a few nights, maybe more than a few.
The campus changed a lot. Buildings went down. Buildings went up. People left. People came. Some people stayed but their faces changed. It’s hard to remember specific moments that define my experience here at Washington College. Maybe you have those; if you do I envy you. What I’m left with is just kind of a vague impression of feeling, like someone draped a thin cloth over my eyes and I can only make out the blurred figures. It can’t say that the meaning of it is diminished, but it certainly makes it harder to articulate what my time here has meant to me. Maybe ten years from now I’ll be able to say more about those “one times” that really made college special. I guess its more the collective sum of all these moments that I’ll remember, what it felt like to be a freshman and how different that feels from how it feels like to be a senior.
I hope that my fellow seniors are enjoying their last days here and a recalling fondly the little spaces of time that made their time here at WC something memorable. I guess for me I’ll remember the people the most, and I hope some will remember me too, fondly I hope. Professors, you’re far too underappreciated, criminally so. There are many I’d like to thank, that have helped me enormously and believed in me as I stumbled down my own crooked academic road, especially when it wasn’t necessarily deserved. For that they will always have my deepest and sincerest gratitude.
I can’t help but feel like all of this is a little cliché, but whatever, the ending of things earns every writer a cliché pass. So yeah the future’s out there and it seems to be staring all of us down with a look that says “I’m probably going to beat you up and take your lunch/rent money because you looked at me funny.” Yes its scary, but its not that bad. Hell, college seemed pretty daunting at first but now this old place feels like a home we’re leaving. Things tend to work out, so here’s hoping they do for all of us.
May 6, 2011
Volume LXXXI Issue 25