My Conclusion My Commencement

Set the mood.

Start with this. 

Add a bit of this.

Let it sit for a bit. Breathe. Then continue with my story…

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It is no small coincidence that I am picking up where I left off.

A rainstorm. And so much has taken place since the last rainstorm where I asked you to wait for me. I’m back to meet you in the rain.

This morning, when I woke to my rainstorm, I remembered that today is the day I was to write a commencement speech. A professor wanted to send us away on the holiday with feelings of empowerment, with feelings of go-get-em, with tucking our quondam semester into our belt and stepping into the next.

I feel little but nostalgia at this point. Nostalgia over exhaustion, over excitement. Little but the memories, soaking into me with the rain.

Readers, I am leaving this place soon. I made the decision while I was away from this public journal of mine – I’m transferring. I’m finally leaving this campus. I’m starting anew. I’m tucking this school into my belt and greeting a new home with pockets bulging experiences.

My commencement speech for class is silly – it’s a fake assignment, after all, a fake speech. What am I celebrating? Who am I celebrating? And why?

Readers, I have another speech for you, for me, for this school that I leave behind. My commencement needs first its conclusion. My end here, at this campus, this school, this…home, my end here is where my commencement can finally blossom.

And so, I begin.

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First, a word to those who don’t deserve one. One last thing to you before I forget you, as I leave you behind and become better for it: thank you. Thank you.

If that’s not what you were expecting, it’s because it isn’t what’s deserved. But I thank you for the suffering, because I’m leaving now. Would I be leaving as freely if you hadn’t unburdened yourself?

To those who did me wrong, to you friends-no-more, to you you know who you are, I simply embrace my hurt and thank you, as softly and graciously as my wounds allow. I will heal. I will heal away from you.

But thank you.

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A word to those who do deserve this and much more.

A word to the professors who scrawled away pieces of themselves on hundreds of papers, tests, projects to educate and instruct. A word to the shuttle driver who waited as the water splashed up around my running toes. A word to the woman who smiled as she served me, to the man who picked me up when I stumbled. To the leaders, the classmates, the co-workers, the family.

A word to the shoulders who caught my tears. A word to the hands which flipped to scriptures. To the one who paid, to the one who drove, to the one who warmed and fed. A word to the ones who welcomed.

A word to the two who led, to the two who lived, to the two who left, to the one who loved, to the few who stayed, to the many who affected.

A word to the ones who needed me.

To the ones who knew I needed them.

A word to all who deserve one:

Thank you.

I leave behind with all of you an even exchange – for the memories you send with me, I leave behind a piece of my heart and my gratitude.

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You, my school – you, my home for two years – you, my captor, my savior, my prison and my playground.

You sit in this rainstorm, in my rainstorm – do you weep for me or do you wash me away?

As I walk your paths, I can focus on my breath curling out in front of me. Is this all I leave behind? Is this my legacy here in your arms – nothing but wisps of a person who once was, memories that fade as quickly as the storm begins, an echo of the life I lived before?

Did I make a difference? Will you remember me? Will my home close its doors to me?

You sit in this rainstorm, in my rainstorm – do you weep for my departure or do you wipe yourself clean of my touch?

To the halls that felt as if they closed in on me – will you miss my presence?

To the rooms I’ve called my home, my shelter – will you protect your new inhabitants as I walk out into a rainstorm?

You! You who provoked me! Who scared me and sickened me, who ruined me and tempted me!

You whose walks ran with the sweat and tears and blood of my soul – who turned cold to me when my heart was its coldest. 

….will you miss me as much as I will miss you?

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I see my breath curl out in front of me. Chilled fingers fumble inside pockets. Toes splash – the still waters of your walks will never again be disturbed by my comings and goings. My ears turn red in the chilly blow of your breath as I hush to class.

Will you miss me the way I will miss you, my home for two years?

Thank you.

It is an out-of-body experience. My mind is ready for holidays, my soul has flown to its new perch on a new campus – but as my body shuffles through the day to day, the heart grows nostalgic. The heart – one foot here, one foot there.

Will you let me go? Will you let me leave, please? Give me my heart.

Let me leave in peace, and I’ll leave you a piece in exchange.

Leave in peace, leave  a piece.

Is my whole life to be about leaving?

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Perhaps this is the beauty of the rainstorm – my rainstorm – our rainstorm.

You can never tell whether the rain is coming or going. It leaves one place to come to another.

Am I like the rain?

I let the rain wash over me as I walk, pattering on hooded hair and curling around stinging nose.

The fog cuts and I see lights – just for a moment – as they turn around the corner. The warmth now left, it’s coming to another place I have not found yet.

Through the fog, the mist, the rain, I see lights. I see others.

I see me, reflected back in shiny window, soggy walk.

I see me, because of you.

Two years ago, did I see me as clearly as I see me now?

I know me. As well as I have known you.

A word to you: thank you.

Thank you.

My conclusion is this.

I take nothing with me that I cannot leave behind – all that I am I received from you – and you and I will always being a part of each other because of this.

We will be better because of each other.

Will you remember my thanks?

Will you come when I call – the memories, will you wrap yourself around me when I need you all?

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Do you weep for me or wash me away?

The most important part is that it doesn’t matter which.

Either way, you are thinking of me.

So will you forever think of me with the rain?

Thank You. You who calls me to come and to leave. I leave and come to You. Thank You for the rain.

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