A week ago, I had to stop by my freshroom dorm for a meeting, and after my meeting was over, I couldn’t help but wander up to my old floor from freshman year. The names on the doors and decorations on the walls of the fourth floor of Walsh were different, but the smell, the feel, and the atmosphere were still the same. I halfway expected my friends to wander out of their (former) dorm rooms and ask if I wanted to go to dinner.
I lingered besides my own freshman door for a moment, and I pondered how much things have changed. I haven’t set foot on that floor in over a year, and I haven’t lived there for almost three years. In that time, I have lived in three different apartments in three different buildings, gone home for three summers, and studied abroad for a semester in Rome. Yet, I still instantly felt like part of me belonged there–just like part of me always belongs in the places that I have loved.
Leaving Walsh to go home the summer after freshman year was nothing less than traumatic for me. My friends and I were literally distraught about having to spend three months apart after growing so close over the previous year. After I finally managed to drag myself away, I updated my residence on Facebook. I couldn’t deal with the reality of the fact that I no longer lived in Walsh 447, so I simply changed it to say Walsh 447 (will always be home).
|Last picture of me in Walsh 447…taken right before moving out|
While my residence on Facebook hasn’t said this (or anything else for that matter) for quite awhile, the fourth floor of Walsh will always be one of the most important physical spaces of my life. It is a place where I found acceptance, where I laughed and cried and ate too many s’mores at midnight. It’s where I slept too little, studied too much, and wondered, wondered a lot. I used to sit in the window of that room and watch people walk by and dream about who I would become over these four years of college. Walsh 447 was a place where I endured those awkward beginning weeks of college, when no one really knew who their “people” were yet, and it’s the place where I cried goodbye with my people in May.
I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past few years about community (and will soon be doing much more within the context of JVC), and a lot of that thinking was because of SLU. While those lessons about community began in Walsh, SLU has taught me the value of community through other avenues as well. Gradually, these people who were once strangers have become my roommates, my best friends, my acquaintances, and my familiar faces around campus, and that is what makes leaving college harder than anything else. Because other things can be replaced, but community has to be built. And I have worked so hard to create these communities over the past four years, and now I have to leave them.
When I reflect back to where I was emotionally three years ago at this time, I am actually in a more stable place today. While I was a mess leaving freshman year, over time I realized that we would be okay. And it’s been that continued reassurance over the past few years of breaks and periods of separation that is keeping me from being a nervous wreck now, as I face a much more permanent separation in a looming future. Although if I am really truly honest, I will admit that I think the real reason I haven’t been freaking out yet is simply because it hasn’t sunk in yet (only 18 days left!).
For today though, I just want to remember where I’ve been and the one of the places that helped me get here. Walsh 447, here’s to you.
|First day of classes at SLU…Fall ’07|