“Things will be back to normal in the fall,” we thought.
“Well, hopefully we’ll still get to have a senior spring,” we said.
One year ago, we left for spring break, and we never came back.
A year has passed, and everything is different now. We have had nearly half of our college experience taken away from us; the traditions we dreamt of keeping up are no longer safe.
There are the big things, of course, like graduation, spring break and seeing the Dean Dome brimming with fans during your last Duke game as a student. There’s the paralyzing fear of “what comes next?” as we prepare for a future that’s full of unknowns.
But there are also so many little things.
Rolling up to Linda’s with your friends on a Tuesday night — because you’re seniors, so why not? Lying on the quad on a sunny afternoon with Gary preaching in the background. Celebrating your last first day of class and your last last day of class with your best friends.
Every other day we feel nostalgic for something we never thought we’d miss, like ordering a specialty coffee from Alpine Bagel and being told every day that they were out of the syrups. (Why is it on the menu, then?)
Or being forced to walk slowly behind a huge crowd of people between class changes. Or the peculiarities of dorm life, like when someone grossly misjudges the amount of time needed to microwave popcorn in the shared kitchen and sets off the fire alarm at 2:30 a.m.
But more often than that, we feel nostalgic for what we thought we’d only miss after graduating — not while we’re actually still in college. We miss walking around campus to get to our next class and seeing dozens of friendly faces. We miss eating on Franklin Street with our friends.
We miss ignoring work during nice days to grab YoPo, and getting lunch at the Bottom of Lenoir between classes. We even miss doing the walk of shame from Davis to the UL at 2 a.m. because no, we’re still not done with that paper yet.
One year ago, we did so many things for the last time, and we didn’t even know it. For most of us, it’s been a year since we last set foot in a classroom, and we’ll leave this place without getting another chance to do so. We still have two months until graduation, but it feels like we left college a long time ago.
So many bucket list items will be left unchecked. Things like senior bar golf and climbing the Bell Tower, which we likely won't be able to participate in without jeopardizing public safety. Luckily, it seems we will be getting an in-person commencement ceremony. Although it won’t be the same as in years past, at least we can end our senior year with some semblance of normalcy.
To paraphrase Andy Bernard: If only there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.
If there’s anything the past year has taught us, it’s that life can change in an instant. Nothing lasts forever, but sometimes it’s even more fleeting than you thought.
So, underclassmen, if you get a chance to relive the small moments, make sure to hold on tight.
Blink, and you’ll miss it. We sure do.
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