Ten years ago. It was a Sunday, and it was cold and rainy in Waltham, Massachusetts, the small town nine miles outside of Boston that is home to the old Waltham Watch Company factory, Lizzy's Ice Cream, a really good Mexican restaurant, and two universities, one of which is my beloved Brandeis University.
The light drizzle fell outside the window as we gathered in our suite's common room that was filled with the boxes and suitcases that we had spent the last couple of days packing for our final trips home, and the other detritus that accumulates in a college dorm over the course of a year that no one really knew what to do with. We mostly avoided looking at it all as we struggled with the blue and white hoods that were part of our costumes for the day and tried to decide whether it would be stupid to wear heels, considering the yards and yards of grass that most of us would have to walk through to get to our individual department ceremonies, and whether trying to use a hair iron was futile, considering the rain. Inconsequential decisions, maybe, but ones that had taken on mythic proportions since our alarms woke us up early that morning.
It was graduation day, and for the most part, no one wanted it to be. So instead of focusing on the fact that we had less than a day left on the campus that had been home for four years, we fixated on the details. Curly or straight. Heels or flats. Did I remember to pay those parking tickets that they threatened to withhold my diploma over?
We put on caps and gowns and the impossible hoods, marched in and got diplomas, and listened to a speaker none of us have more than a hazy recollection of, And just like that we were college graduates. We found our families and smiled for pictures while on the inside we were begging for just one more year. Two at the most.
We were Brandeis University class of 2005.
It seems almost impossible that it has been ten years since that day, and yet when I look at everything that has happened since then, it seems like ten years isn't nearly enough time for us to have packed it all in.
Law school. Graduate school. More graduations. First jobs. New jobs. New apartments. Buying houses. Moves. Engagements. Weddings. Births. Deaths. We've been happy and scared, we've succeeded and struggled in equal measure. We've started real lives and are living those lives the very best way we know how. We are really and truly adults, which just floors me because for the most part I still feel like I'm 22 and waiting for a grown-up to come in and take charge. Except I'm the grown-up now.
Despite the bargaining I did in those last days before graduation for just a little more time on that campus - one more class, just a few more late night snacks in my suite, even one more round of finals - ten years out I wouldn't want to go back now and do it all over again. But I like to look back every now and then to who I was in those dizzy and wild and wonderful college days. Because there is a magic in looking back and going back and remembering the moments on that campus where I lived and learned and studied and grew up.
And there is also a joy in being here and now, and knowing that in a major way, those days and that place helped make me who I am. Someone who is lucky in her life and her work and her friends. Someone who can appreciate the nostalgia of looking back and understanding that the person I was then still lives in the person I am now.
One cold and rainy day in May I stood with my friends in the giant gym as blue and white balloons rained down on us and we took our first tentative steps beyond the campus gates.
Ten years. A lifetime ago. And also just yesterday.