.. but it’s over now.
I finished the last exam of my Stanford career today. Halfway through the last exam, I kept checking my watch to see how much longer I had to pretend to care. Looking at the tense, sweaty faces around me, I had that strange out-of-body experience of looking at my past self. “Whatever is happening now, it’s already in the past.” The outcome of this exam wouldn’t affect my future self one tiny bit. It was over. I’d already checked out.
During my last week as a student, it felt strange to have people congratulate me. “For what?” I had to refrain myself from asking. For me, graduation was a continuation, not an achievement. You finished college and became a graduate, the way you finished Wednesday and started on Thursday. My friends asked if I’d celebrate. I said no. I didn’t feel like it was time for celebration. It was time for reflection.
I went for a long walk. I passed the part of the campus I had never been to before. I visited some friends I hadn’t seen in ages. I smelled the flowers whose existence I wasn’t even aware of. I searched everywhere for some sentiment I could, or should, feel. Shouldn’t I feel sad that I would no longer be seeing my friends on a daily basis? Shouldn’t I feel nostalgic to say goodbye to the place I called home for the last 3.5 years? Shouldn’t I be reluctant to part with the majority of the possessions I’d gathered during my time at Stanford?
I felt a bit guilty that those sentiments never appeared. Instead, I felt a strange sense of calmness I had never felt before in my life. I used to cry a rainstorm whenever I left a place I felt remotely attached to, so this lack of sentiment alarmed me a bit. Why was that the case? Maybe I had been through continual, intense stress, and my body was too busy decompressing to feel. Maybe it was because I now knew that the idea of home is geography-independent – home is wherever you feel at ease — and that true friendships thrive regardless of how often you see each other. Maybe it was because I was ready to leave. Long before I finished school, I had been craving for a change. New adventures. New things to learn. New evil bosses to defeat.
As I biked around the campus for the last time, I couldn’t help admiring how beautiful Stanford was. The palm trees. The oval. The imposing sandstone walls. The gorgeous church. All the flowers and delicious fruits that nobody picked. I almost ran over a group of high school students visiting the campus. Some of them were dreaming of coming here. Some of those dreams might come true. Like mine did. I hummed softly to myself:
“It must have been love but it’s over now
It must have been good but I lost it somehow”