It has been more than a year since our bond began, and with our recent separation, I’ve begun to pour over photos and memories, reminiscing in awe, joy, and melancholy.
With the winds of a new autumn we were brought together, nineteen strangers searching for a purpose, open and ready to surge ahead into the unknown. As the leaves changed and the temperatures dropped, we started our year-long journey with an adventure, one of my favorite memories to this day. You all remember hiking into the hills behind campus during that concert at the Greek? Armed with the courage of our convictions and extremely ice cold water, we marched up 45° slopes, through brush that bruised hands and scratched holes through our jeans, helping each other over fallen trees along the way. I still get chills when I think about slipping off of that tree stump, catching myself before heading towards the canyon below. We found little treasures left behind by so many who came before, veering off the path several times, getting lost twice, and discovering the infamous tree swing. Nevertheless, the memories that we created once we arrived at the top of the hill were the true prize of that day.
Looking back, I realize that I was terrified beforehand. Many of you don’t know this, but a past of cold and scornful rejections from people I had once considered friends as a kid had left a dark, deep-rooted rupture in me that had not truly healed. In fact, the personal expectation of loss, embarrassment, and humiliation still festered at times, only curbed by positive insight, surroundings, and a handful of family and friends who I loved dearly.
As I walked from my house to meet everyone, some reflection of my past resentment started to well up, but this is definitely not a reflection of you. In fact, within minutes, your warm welcome and positive presence helped immensely in calming my fears. I tried as hard as I could not to fall back and put up all of my barriers. To be honest, each and every one of you have not only defied my expectations, but helped that rupture to heal more than you could ever know.
Since that day, we have had so many more adventures, moments which have left an indelible impact on my heart and sense of self. From getting stuck in a dangerous snowstorm that one night, to intricate games of Assassin on campus, and having so many incredible night adventures in the Bay, I have grown with every instant. Each day I was with you on our shared journey, you motivated me to be better, to look outside of my comfort zone, and continuously inspired and surprised me with support until my pain lessened into a dull ache. I know that we have had our disagreements, with tension and anger leaving some of us feeling as though that sense of precious friendship, of family could be lost. Still, I am grateful that we were able to forgive, to learn and grow together.
We have fought side-by-side, supported each other even when we couldn’t realize or appreciate the value in the moment, and each day continues to expand upon that sense of family despite our distance. Without you, my college experience would not have been the same. I would not be the same.
Thank you for sharing your friendship and encouragement.
Please don’t stop being your ridiculous, funny, inspiring, burrito and fried Oreo-loving selves.
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