Whoever would have thought that the end of sophomore year would be this sad? I still remember high school graduation and everyone leaving for college, and even that didn’t phase me as much as this farewell. It didn’t really hit me until a couple of days ago that I wouldn’t see some people in years–or maybe ever again–and others until Spring of 2012. These were people who came to be my closest friends, people with whom I shared secrets and knew things about me that nobody else could ever have fathomed. These people were my sisters, my roommate, my block. It finally hit me a couple of hours ago as some of us went out for a night of karaoke and relaxing, and everybody kept telling me how sad they were that I was leaving and to have a great summer. Just like that, and my mind went into overdrive. I kept thinking of all the memories, all the amazing friendships I’ve made, especially with seniors that developed over the past few months. They would be graduating, working in all parts of the world, and how often would I see them again? Certainly not daily or weekly like I had been now. The experience is so much different from high school, where often, a very clear level of hierarchy is established, with very noticeable cliques–segregated by class year, among other things–and the make-up of classes. Sure, when I was a high school sophomore I knew a number of seniors from Accolade and tennis, but beyond that, not much. In college, I’ve met them everywhere. I’ve met them through group projects; I’ve met them through Chronicle; I’ve met them through Chi Omega; I’ve met them through other friends. And just when it feels like I’ve established strong bonds with them, they’re leaving. They’re graduating. Their four years in Durham are over. And I’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave for RDU in an hour and go back home to LA. I’m not ready to come back in the Fall and see a new class of freshmen replacing the seniors that I’ve grown so fond of. I’m not ready to try and keep up that long-distance friendship that tends to fizz out just as soon as it starts. I’ve seen seniors graduate before, but this time, I’m not ready.
Nor am I ready to leave behind the sophomores, my closest friends. My block has gotten so close this year, and I’ve made so many great friends through extracurricular activities that I’m not ready to let go of. I’m not ready to spend an entire summer apart from them, followed by another long semester away from them. Deciding not to study abroad was hard enough for me, but being at Duke, being constantly reminded of my memories with my friends will be just as tough. While they’re off exploring Spain, Ecuador, South Africa, England, Italy, and other countries, I’ll be exploring the depths of KVille, traversing the stands of Wallace Wade, living in Perkins and Bostock, enjoying the Duke Gardens. But I won’t be doing is having regular meals with these people, lining up for free t-shirts with these people, making the long trek to the Bryan Center from Edens with these people. I won’t be doing any of these things. Sure, I have a lot of close friends who have decided to not to go abroad, but that doesn’t make others’ departure any easier. That still hasn’t settled in as much. A summer without them? Sure, it’s possible I’ll survive–especially if I make a trip down to Durham to see everyone. But the entire Fall semester of junior year without them? Unimaginable. They’ve been my lighthouse when I’m sailing on a stormy sea. They’ve been my floatie when I’m struggling in the rock quarry. They’ve been my battery charger when I’ve been fatigued. They’ve been my therapist when I’ve been stressed. They’ve been the best of friends to me, and it’s so difficult to imagine being away from them for so long. And the thought of them coming back to Duke with so many stories from being abroad, that’ll be hard, too. Much harder than my decision to not go abroad for sure. But with these friends, there is one thing I know for sure. No matter the distance, no matter the time spent apart, no matter the difference in memories, I’ll always have them by my side, because that’s who they are–friends forever.
And when I think about the juniors, I’m happy–happy that they’re not seniors, relieved that I have another year to spend with them. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be bawling every day of the last two weeks of next year, sad that so many of my closest friends will be graduating and moving out of Durham. But for now, I remain content. Content that even though it’ll be a long summer, I’ll get another year to spend with them before this all hits me again.