I could feel it coming to a halt. Sitting around the table, I looked on at my friends, all laughing and joking around, seemingly unaware that this was the end of an era. We’d never be this young and old again. And although I was aware that that was a concept everyone is forced to face, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the best it got. What happens when there’s nothing left to explore – no newness left to overturn? We would soon find out.
On evenings like this, we’d usually head to the rundown, and surely C-grade, bar and loosely titled restaurant around the corner from the university. It was a neutral meeting ground of sorts, and a great way for isolated liberal arts attendees to get a taste of real college life. One without ridiculously early curfews, or makeshift proms to replace some unpleasant recent memories of the real thing.
We’d scrape our money together, earned through work studies and part-time gigs, to split a monstrosity certain to leave us with hangovers if not mono. I tried to take it all in, maybe freeze an image in my head all the while unsettled about the looming feeling I couldn’t name. They couldn’t see it, and if they did, no one let on. Maybe I should have joined in on their blissful ignorance, but try as I may, it wouldn’t stick.
For four years, we’d banded together to defeat the forces of overbearing RAs and everything else school had thrown at us. We’d been there through all of the untimely breakups and unexpected loss, and despite all that, none of it would matter in a few months. We’d all pack our belongings one last time, say our goodbyes, and shrink into a tiny image fading in the background of each other’s rearview. Unaware at the time, we’d accepted all that there was to take from this flash of our lives, and would carry it in our memories, only to be revisited on lonely adult evenings when the silence that accompanies our age grows deafening.
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