Is it sad that it has taken me almost a full week to realize what graduation and this whole "leaving college" thing means?  Be forewarned: this post probably won't have much to do with cooking, baking or even food.  Just so you know ahead.

I just took a nice long walk around the pond this evening.  The pond has been my place of choice to run and go on walks, both alone and with anyone who will walk with me.  And honestly, the times I have spent walking around the pond solo are probably some of the only times I have really had the time to think in college.  I didn't usually think about math or teaching or classes when I was walking around the pond, it was usually life.
First of all, this made me think of Freshman year when I walked halfway around the pond for class every Tuesday and Thursday, yet somehow had no idea that it went around the rest of the way.  I think it took me more than half a semester to even go around for the first time.  However, since then, my feet have walked that same old path hundreds of times . . . some teary, some joyful, some alone, some with friends, some contemplative, some with my camera, some in snow, others in sticky-humid-hot, and once, I even read a book.

The path around the pond brought me by the empty, forlorn looking windows of our apartment.  It reminded me of all the times those windows were literally full of life and smiles: throwing the pumpkin onto the ice, teasing MF and DJR when they were walking with their boyfriends, trying to see if it was snowing enough for a snow day.  For the first time, it sunk in that I'm not going back there.  I'm done with that chapter of my life.  My wonderful apartmentmates, my co-conspirators and influences in so many wonderful pursuits, are currently scattered through five states, along with all my other close friends, for that matter.  And we keep sending each other messages, hoping it will bring back the community we had but somehow it's just not the same.  It was just a little less than a week ago when we (at least the seniors amongst us) were sitting there, together, enjoying our senior breakfast.  It seems impossible that it's already been that long.
Thinking about my apartment and the fun I had with those girls also caused me to do some serious reflecting on college.  It was just six months ago when I realized that I finally felt like I knew what college was supposed to be and wrote about it in my journal.  And at that point I had 2 1/2 weeks to enjoy really being a college student.  And now, six months later and "settled in" to a teaching job (if you can call the level of confidence I feel when teaching "settled in"), I wish I had that last semester to be a college student.  It's not that I was miserable my first three years of college -- there are plenty of good memories from back then, but I really felt like I made the connections that almost made me feel like college could pull me away from the safety of home and take the scary step into being not quite as much of a homebody.  Don't worry, I said almost.  I'm still a homebody.  I was homesick a lot during college, and May 21, 2011 was a date that was emblazoned in my mind as a day to look forward to like no other.  The funny thing is, the closer it got, the less I thought about that date.

And now it's in the past anyway.  I feel like I've really spent eight years working toward graduating from college.  High school is obviously about graduating from high school first, but that's all so you can get into a better college, so really the full eight years are working toward college graduation.  Now what?  Now that that milestone is over, what comes next?

My answer is more school.  I like being a student.  And a student I will be.  But what's the next major step in my life?  I really am an adult now, as much as I don't feel like it.
So much more went through my head while I was walking.  I'm sure it will come back slowly.  The only thing interrupting my soliloquy was an inch worm.  He was hanging out on the cover of my cup basically the whole time I was walking.  And as strange as it seems, I was thankful for the company.

Ok, I'm done soliloquizing.  Back to our normally scheduled programming.


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