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Senior Moments

By 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.

It's Moving Time

I hate saying goodbye.

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: Moving time.”

Standing here 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 to come.

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.

It’s moving time.

There’s 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.

Tissue, please…

5/16/06
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