Done. adjective. According to Dictionary.com, “Completed; finished; through.”
So apparently I’m done.
My junior year of college is complete.
The rooms of Phileo 2 are empty, their inhabitants tricking out into the world beyond Northwestern. The dusty pennants and the banner graffitied with ballpoint pen are down, soaked with excited girly screams and snippets of hallway conversation. The rooms will never be filled with the same blend of spunky and sweet and hardworking and kind women; next year, different lives and stories will cushion the industrial furniture and white walls. I know that many of the sweet girls will still be on campus in the fall. But no longer will the same group gather to eat fondue or roast s’mores over the stove burner or talk about art or build the community I dearly loved.
The Hartill staff has dispersed, spread to summer housing and foreign cities and familiar homes. No longer are we cemented together by our common duties and struggles. That the year with these beautiful women is done cracks my heart. I just love them so much. Through JoJo’s from Trader Joes and books read aloud and vulnerability and desperation to be understood, coworkers have become deep friends and sisters. I’ve been cheered by their goofiness, shaped by their Christ-love, stretched by their wisdom, encouraged by their tender hearts. No longer do we live just halls apart, the threads of our separate lives knotting together every week. We’re cut loose, linked a little less tightly.
Friends pull away to their summer lives of work and travel and separation. Chance encounters in the coffee shop and casual weekend movies don’t work quite as well. I don’t receive the everyday afternoon update on the building of their lives. We’ll all be reunited in the fall, both changed and the same. Slowly we’re moving on, chipping closer to real life, with brand-new announcements of engagements and fast-approaching graduations. This summer, we feel that.
This is weird.
The closing of the year is always a strange thing. For the last days on campus, end-of-the-year loom dark over finals and move-outs. I try to swallow them until the whole thing is done. And then, all at once, it is. Tests over, assignments in, room empty, goodbyes said. The car pulls out onto Lydia on a one-way trip, burdened with stuff. And after six hours and only a few breaths, I’ve slipped into the comfortable routine of home, though my boxed-up college life still lingers in the entry. But I feel like it’s just another school break, that a few days more will find me packing my clean laundry and trucking back to the Cities for another helping of this year, the same people and routines and scenery and themes.
But that’s not true.
It’s really done.
All that remains of this year are the moments that I tuck away, like trinkets in under-bed boxes, to later rediscover, a little dustier and a little dearer. Late-night dance practices in end lounges. A lamp-lit circle of girls crowding my dorm room, sharing their ordinaries. Weariness tempting eyelids down under fluorescent classroom lights. Cinnamon tea warming hands on frigid mornings. Prayers from tired RAs dissolving inexplicably into laughter. The warm-sugar smell of cookies baking in dorm ovens. My rapid heartbeats as student eyes watch for a lesson’s beginning. Salty stovetop popcorn and chick flicks. Wandering red lines scratched over messed-up grammar tests.
The gentle handling of these moments is sweet, heavy with God-breathed blessing. Letting them go is hard, a little hesitant, as life keeps drifting on. But it’s expected, this shifting forward of life. The seasons warm and cool, hesitant and apprehensive girls slapping on Resident Assistant nametags become a little less unsure, shaky voices firm with confidence. And then the cycle starts anew.
This year is fading in the rearview mirror, with all of its difficulty and beauty and stress and joy. It is done.
But here, now, today, another season begins.