Sitting down today, on my second to last Sunday at Colgate, I’m genuinely unsure how other seniors are feeling because I haven’t had more than five minutes in the last two weeks to ask. I’ve heard in passing that my friends feel nostalgic walking through Hamilton at sunset, or are shocked that there are only two weeks left, but me? Nothing. I’ve remained at a strange, disconnected distance. I rarely acknowledge 2021’s rapidly dwindling time on this campus and continue to rant bitterly about the amount of work I face during my last weeks as a Colgate student. My feet drag as I trudge again, and again, and again, to the library: backpack no lighter than last week, light at the end of the tunnel no brighter. My best friends scold me playfully when I emerge from self-imposed confinement, telling me they don’t like it when I disappear for a week, they miss me. I laugh sheepishly, they laugh with me, fondly, and we continue on with our night. I wake up, on Monday, ready to repeat this lonely routine.
What I realize, now, beginning my last ever contribution to The Colgate Maroon-News, is something that I have been unable to admit to my most trusted people, nor to myself. The distance and endless working is a ruse to emotionally and physically refuse the end of our time at Colgate. Using a thesis as an excuse, I push it off, burying myself in the nooks and crannies of the library. I avoid Tuesday Senior Nights at the Brewery, because that would mean acknowledging how few we have left. When I allow myself a break, I fill what should be restful silence with Netflix bingeing, keeping my brain busy enough to ignore any and all feelings of sadness. I shush anyone trying to discuss “the end,” declaring it forbidden, off-limits. I wanted it to forever be a “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.”
What I feel, admitting this, is utter exhaustion. I am so overwhelmed with the task of finals while trying to process my lasts, which at this point, arrive incessantly by the hour. I can’t eat a roasted turkey and avocado sandwich at the Chobe without thinking about how many more finals I might have left. And now that they’re using normal deli meat, and not some version of turkey spam, the separation anxiety will be next level. Nostalgia tugs at me through the rays of sun that sneak between the trees on the trail behind the airport.
The amount of change we all will face in the coming weeks, and the speed at which it will happen, terrifies me. The all encompassing sadness I will feel driving away from my most trusted and valued people, knowing we will not reconvene in the village after a few measly months, is crushing. My ever-growing pile of job rejections creates the illusion of never-ending uncertainty and lack of purpose. How do I say goodbye and thank you to professors that so profoundly influenced my view of the world, and of myself, on a Zoom screen?
What makes this reckoning all the more difficult for me, personally, is that I can’t help but feel that Colgate was taken from me too soon. This year, as we all know, wasn’t the same. I wasn’t the same Kelsey that attended this school for three years, either. At the same time, it is not lost on me how lucky we are to be on campus this year. I am so grateful to attend a school that was so dedicated to making college work safely in a pandemic. I feel that the sense of loss should be under control, as it’s trite compared to the loss others have suffered this year. And yet, it’s there, buried and riddled with guilt.
Certainly, there are many aspects of Colgate with which I am not sad to part. These four years have not been the unadulterated best years of my life as many describe their college years. My relationship with Colgate has been one constantly fluctuating between love and hate. I’ve been lucky to have access to the Maroon while engaging in battles against the rumor mill and against this school’s inequalities. Our paper harbors inequalities of its own, but I feel pride in my contributions to improve it and hope in its potential to initiate productive change as it is passed down into capable, ready hands. I am hopeful that every member of 2021 feels this way about their own corner of campus.
I don’t have any closing advice, nor polished conclusions. I need more time. I need less work. I need to process. I don’t foresee any of those things happening. What I can say is two things. One, that my beautiful, fiercely loyal, intelligent, critical and brave friends — my people — made my Colgate experience one that I will miss terribly and treasure deeply, despite its flaws. And two, that sitting here, writing this, is the first time I’ve allowed myself to feel the end. And I cried through every word.