Jennifer Gabrielle ’06
This is the
third and final installment in a series of essays by Gabrielle,
an intern writer in the Office of College Relations, on being
a Smith senior on the threshold of graduation.
I hate saying
Even as a child,
I couldn’t handle it. I remember crying at the end of
The Little Mermaid. It was a happy ending, my mother
assured me; Ariel was finally marrying her prince. But all
I could see was a little red-haired girl waving goodbye to
her father and leaving her family -- her whole world -- behind.
I cried, too, at a Fred Penner concert. He was my favorite
musician. I used to watch his TV show, Fred Penner’s
Place, and even had one of his CDs, which was a big deal
to an 8-year-old. At the concert, he sang my least favorite
song, “Moving Time,” which I always skipped on
the CD. I tried to hide my tears by climbing out of my seat
and turning my back to the stage. I told my parents I was
tired, but it was really the lyrics I didn’t want to
hear, something like, “Although it isn’t easy
to leave some things behind when you’re growing up and
moving away, just hold onto the memories, and I think that
you will find you’re learning it’s easy to say:
at the shore of my college career getting ready to leave the
water for the real world, I’m choking up again at the
thought of saying goodbye.
There are a few
things I won’t mind leaving behind: school work, for
one. Sharing two showers, three sinks, and three toilets with
a hall of women, for another. I also look forward to eating
when I want to, no longer confined to dining hall hours.
More than that,
the thought of starting something new is growing on me. I
feel like I did just before I went abroad my junior year,
knowing something good and exciting was coming but not understanding
the full extent of the adventure. The possibilities for my
life are as varied as my imagination will allow, and several
new ideas have just tapped me on the shoulder. To answer them
or not is my choice, a freedom I’m enjoying more than
expected. Marvel has replaced fear and I want to savor these
moments of uncertainty and continue dreaming of good things
But as new things
come, other good things must go: professors, supervisors,
mentors, friends, a community, a whole life built and shared
over four intense years of work and play. It is my turn to
leave the ocean, to step on dry land and wave glassy-eyed
to the family I’ve found here at Smith.
I always knew
it was coming, but I didn’t know saying goodbye would
be so hard. The reality hit when one of my professors gave
each student a rose at the end of the last class. She told
us to remember how beautiful we were together, as a bouquet,
and to remember the friendships we’ve made. I only managed
to whisper my thanks as she handed me a flower, and for the
first time when thinking about graduation, I cried.
nothing I can do to stop myself from growing up and leaving
people behind. I already know I’ll be a mess at Commencement,
since I can’t even control myself in class. The only
thing left to do is embrace it.
But this time,
I will not turn my back to the stage or to the music. This
time I will stand up straight, appreciate the journey, and
wave goodbye as I begin the next one.