Or: A Processing of Surprisingly Complex Emotions
There’s something oddly surreal about holding some preserved artifact from three years ago. Bright, young faces, looking out of the pages, brimming with hope for a brighter tomorrow. Short write-ups that all sound the same, yet are supposed to convey some sort of unique personality trait for all of those faces. Vivid flashbacks of all the petty, life-threatening concerns you were so burdened with all those years ago.
I just got my college yearbook.
All of a sudden, taking this trip down memory lane doesn’t sound quite as fun as I’d hoped it’d be.
Well, fine. So I exaggerate. Things aren’t that bad. But I’ll be honest – it’s still ultimately so weird.
I barely even spared my yearbook a second glance as soon as I brought it home. Didn’t really go in-depth through it either when I first picked it up. Just checked to see if my face had made the pages, and once I found that the money my parents spent to pay for my face didn’t go to waste, I put it in my bag immediately.
Mission accomplished. Yearbook acquired. Can I go home now?
As is the case with trips to the past like this one, the memories start filtering in like smoke. Conversations you don’t hear anymore start ringing in your ears. Smells of old, dilapidated buildings fill your nostrils, and you find yourself missing the school canteen that isn’t there anymore.
Bam, voila. I’m still in the school, and just like that, I’m brought back to three, four, five years ago.
So I guess you can hate me now for saying that this didn’t really do much for me. Didn’t stir some powerful, weepy emotion in me to make me yearn for things that happened before. I remembered the college trauma. Heard those old arguments and complaints. Smelled that old college atmosphere.
And once that happened, I never became more thankful that I’d moved on from the experience a long time ago.
Do not get me wrong. I had some fun when I was still in college. But looking back on it now, as I flip through the pages of my college yearbook, I realize that that’s all that is – a memory. It’s not something I can hold again. Not something I can re-create. I can revisit it. I can go back. But that’s it. The end. What else can I do after that?
I guess this is the fate of all schools: to remain witnesses to the thousands of students that come through their gates, learn to call these places home, and then, finally leave and move on with the rest of their lives.
There’s a huge, noticeable gap between those who’ve moved on from their student days and those who haven’t. A great, big divide that’s obvious to some, and blissfully ignored by most. But that’s nobody’s fault. What it all boils down to, is this: everyone’s grown up and moved on in their own different ways. Some try to forget the past and leave it behind altogether. Others progress with their lives by doing the same things they did before.
We all have our own ways of coping. And whether we choose one way or the other, we’re all sure to return from our journeys a little bit wiser and a little more learned.
Coming back to my school made for a very bizarre experience, and I’m not sure I’d want to go through it again. Within the grounds, talking with people I haven’t shown myself to in a while – I found myself overcome with a severe sense of indifference. I’m not proud about that. But it pays to be honest in cases like these.
Again, this is through no fault of anyone. But college me and current me are two completely different people, and maybe, stepping inside my alma mater only served to highlight the uncomfortable feeling.
I have my college yearbook with me, and now that I do, I’m aware that this marks my final transaction with the place that took me in, despite my abysmal Math and Science scores on their entrance exam. This doesn’t make me sad. This doesn’t make me nostalgic.
What this makes me, is relieved, that I don’t ever have to go back again. Not for a long time.
Hear that sound?
That’s me closing a chapter in my book of life.
Somehow, the finality of it doesn’t seem quite as melancholic as I’d expected it to be.