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Farewell Column: Opposite of loneliness Part II

I’m feeling a pressure from the universe. But before I explain, let me revisit someone’s words that came before mine.

In 2014, I read a book called “The Opposite of Loneliness” by an aspiring young writer, Marina Keegan. The book was a compilation of her extensive collegiate writing career. Keegan died in a car accident in 2012, just five days after her Yale University graduation.

The title essay, which was published in the Yale Daily News, explores a discovery in which Keegan made during her time at Yale; the opposite of loneliness. And because Keegan’s words hit such a chord, there’s something in me saying that there is no better way to describe what I’ve found here, at UNH.

I’m feeling pressure, with a month and a half until graduation, to write something momentous. To write something that screams how I feel about this place. Something that describes the copious amounts of different people I’ve crossed paths with, shared a beer with or simply passed on a sidewalk. To write something that declares my youth in the burning state it’s in, the way it glows. I’m feeling pressured to show my cards and say “I am here” and “we are here.” We existed in this beautiful time and place. And in it, we loved, we wrote, we sobbed, we ran, we celebrated, we screamed because our lungs were on fire with freedom and promise. We did all of these things. In quiet rooms, on Main Street, in classrooms, in basements, in green grass and blue skies.

I’m feeling pressured, to document it all now. I can never forget this feeling, this place.

I’m here, tell me you hear me. Tell me I can write what this all means.
I went from being starry-eyed in a dusty basement lit with neon to slaving on my writing at 1 a.m. in a library cubicle, hoping to make a wave in the universe. Our progressions are elemental, and we’ve all had them here.

To me, this place is golden. This place represents every nerve in my body in love with life and in love with the process of living. Sharing stories, laughs, successes, loss. I am forever grateful. Perhaps in my pursuit to write about this place perfectly, I’ll come to the conclusion that this perfection resides in my memories.

As Keegan says in her essay, she is scared that she will wake up the day after graduation and lose this feeling. Similarly, I’m scared that once the caps are thrown and the champagne bubbles have gone flat, that my voice won’t be as loud. I’m scared that a one-bedroom city apartment may feel like the loneliest place in the world and I’ll constantly long to feel a breeze in front of Thompson Hall. Is it silly of me to feel this way? I’m scared to fall out of love with life, or at least, feel less love than I do right now. 

There are times when I swear I blinked and suddenly this was all over. There are certain memories from freshman year I can explain to you like they happened yesterday. Even down to the smells and the sounds, or the exact words of the people around me. I thought it would never end. But it does. And I’m coming to grips with the fact that life does not pause for anyone and even our most valued years do not go by slowly.

In October, I captioned a photo of Thompson Hall with, “I hope this is the longest year of my life.” And while ironically it’s been the fastest and what feels like the shortest, it has been the most rich. I’ve had uncountable moments when the world moved slowly, I resonated and knew that no matter what happened to me for the rest of my life, I would remember every last detail of this moment. This has happened many times during my time at UNH. And it’s been beautiful.

Here’s when I call upon my classmates to never forget these moments. Don’t forget about each other, don’t forget about the magic that floats in the air of Durham, New Hampshire. This is home. And it always will be.

Keegan was right. Sometimes, life can be summed up quite simply. I am here. We are here. And that feeling is what I found at UNH. The opposite of loneliness.

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