It’s storming noisily outside as I write this, which is eerily representative of how I feel right now: Today was the last day of classes for the Spring 2016 term, which means after my two finals next week, I’ll be a college senior.
There are very few times I’m at a loss for words, but it’s hard to articulate how this makes me feel. When I look back on myself the summer before my senior year of high school, the girl I envision is nearly unrecognizable — yet it seems like I was embarking on that “senior year” only a short time ago.
The love I feel for the University of Alabama is similarly hard to describe. Although I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to live and work in Dallas for the next three months, it’s never easy to leave here. Maybe it’s because college is where you learn who you really are, but I feel like there’s a piece of my heart that will always be left behind in Tuscaloosa.
I still get chills every time I drive down University at sunset. The sun casts an orange light sideways through the trees, and it’s astonishingly beautiful. I’ll never forget the first time I visited Bama, and I’m thankful that I still feel overwhelming awe for this breathtaking campus.
I think a lot of people go to the college of their choice and become disillusioned. I am thankful this never happened to me.
While it’s always difficult to pack up and head home for a long break, this summer feels different. Maybe it’s because I finally feel like I’ve come into my own here, and I’m not ready to close the “junior year” chapter of my book just yet. Maybe it’s because I know when I come back, the next time I leave will be for good.
Whatever the reason, I’ve been in a funk all week with the looming conclusion before me. The promise of an exciting new beginning at Southwest (and flying all over the country on the weekends) assuages the sadness a little, but the fundamental truth at work here persists: Endings are never easy.
But maybe it’s beautiful to be so whole-heartedly happy with your normal life that leaving it, albeit temporarily, is painful. I have no doubt I’ll return to Tuscaloosa in the fall with a fresh perspective. And maybe it’s good to leave when you’re still able to romanticize it — I’d rather feel this way than be itching to get out of town.
That’s the amazing thing about Tuscaloosa: As much as we change and grow, we can always come back knowing it’ll be the same (except with new shopping complexes, of course). It’s comforting to know that nothing — not an EF4 tornado nor an off-football season — can break Tuscaloosa’s spirit. There is something very special about this place, and I am so overwhelmingly thankful I get to call it home for one more year.
Thanks for reading, and as always, roll tide.
The fine print: