Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seven Years Since '05

A few weeks ago I looked at the calendar and realized that an anniversary was on the horizon. May 22nd. Today. Seven years since our graduation from Brandeis University. In the world of higher education, where reunions are routinely marked every five years, seven is not a particularly momentous number. Two years since our fifth reunion. Three years until our tenth. But something about this seven year mark struck me. Perhaps because there have been so many changes since we gathered on campus two years ago for our fifth. Or maybe because seven years seem to have passed both slowly and so very, very quickly. Or most likely because ordinary occasions have taken on a stunning importance now that I process them by writing words.

Nevertheless, for reasons unknown, I found myself wanting to mark this significant and insignificant passage of time in some way. So I started to write. And almost immediately, I got stuck. I needed help, a reminder if you will.

So I looked for some pictures of that day. Graduation. To remind myself of the happiness and excitement of the day that mixed with equal parts sadness and anxiety. A dizzying cocktail of emotions to be sure. And I have a few, but not nearly enough. I remember wanting to soak up the day. To experience it in real time, rather than from behind a camera.

So I sent an e-mail. I wrote to my friends and asked for their pictures. And as the pictures came rolling in, the memories came rolling back.

Lining up to march on a gloomy Sunday morning in May. A sea of black caps and gowns. Hoods no one could quite figure out how to attach. A speaker we were too preoccupied to hear. A shower of blue and white balloons. Cameras snapping. Laughs. Smiles. Tears. Excitement over what was to come. Wishing badly for just one more year - or two, or four - in the warm embrace of the campus that had become our home.

With those pictures came e-mails as well. And one of them sticks with me as I sit to write this, my mind and heart back in 2005. One of my friends wrote to us "Can't believe that was 7 years ago. Remember how much we thought we knew?"

Everything. We thought we knew everything.

We met as Freshman. Wide-eyed and new. We were finally there. College. A land filled with unknown places and faces, just waiting to be discovered. And in all that vast and unknown territory, we met each other. Together we twirled and navigated our way through those crazy beautiful college days. We learned, and loved, and grew. We laughed until our sides hurt, and we cried ourselves dry. We accomplished and we stumbled in equal measure. We had fun. Huge sunbursts of fun.

We lived together and studied together. Drank vast amounts of coffee and ate late night junk food together. We analyzed everything in that beautifully complex way unique to college. We learned about each other, and about ourselves. And we planned for the great unknown future. And hoped that we would still be together.

Today, this seven year anniversary urges me to look back. And when I look back I see us. Gathering in a freshman common room on that first, terrifying night. Piling into booths in Sherman Dining Hall. Trudging up the Rabb Steps in blinding snow and unbearable heat. Navigating move-in days and frantic housing lottery weeks. Filling Ziv common rooms on Friday nights. Going back to our freshman quad during senior week; walking the halls where our journey began. Staring at those falling balloons on graduation day with a mixture of awe and dread. Coming back to campus five years later for three incredible days to relive it all.

And it urges me to look at the now. At all we have accomplished. At our good lives. The accomplishments and lives that would not be possible but for that sad and exciting day seven years ago. And I feel so incredibly lucky. Lucky to have had the four incredible years that preceded that day; the years that made an indelible mark on who I was and the person I have become. To have the friendships forged during those years. To know that I always will.

Sometimes I wonder. I wonder what we will think when we look back on today, many years from now. I hope we'll feel the same way. Nostalgic for the past. Happy about the now. Excited for all that still lies ahead. Lucky to still have each other.

Seven years since '05.

Here's to us. The girls we were then. The women we are now. And the journey we're still on. Together.

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