How do we find the words to say goodbye to a place that has been home without avoiding clichÃ©s? Bittersweet and time flies, in particular, come to mind. But in my case, clichÃ©s are no good.
I’ve had an experience here beyond truisms and tired out lines. My experience has been everything but average. In my fifth and final year here at the Castle, I find myself stricken with gripping emotion, tremendous fear and an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Parting with a place that has formed you is like grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s as if I’m trying to detach from a piece of myself so deeply embedded, no quick rip of the Band Aid could ease the pain.
I have never had such a love-hate relationship with an institution as I’ve had here. I loved the school, but hated the thought that I would have to stay so close to home, secluded and stifled in the Green Mountain State. I loved the people I met, but the winters made me hate the state.
Truth be told however, this place had made me – even in the times when I thought it would break me.
What do you say when five years of friendship and camaraderie, love and pain, the making of memories (and trouble), comes to an end? What is there to say when your home and your family and your college can be said to be the same thing?
I’ve been writing this article in my mind since I was an eager, active, enthusiastic freshman. I was confused and self assured back then, certain that my senior column would be full of all the joys and sorrows like that of any other, yet imbued with all of my various accomplishments. But, in retrospect, I didn’t realize how terribly sad the piece would be when thinking about all those things. Instead of my own accomplishments, I would rather thank the people who made me, apologize to those I hurt and mourn the loss of the biggest family I have ever known.
First, the thank yous. Thank you, all of you, every single one. You reading this piece, thank you. You have endowed me with tremendous confidence in myself and in a community’s ability to help define one person. You have changed me. Your friendly faces all across campus, those people who make Castleton what it is, thank you. To Lalor and Lamy, Pinto and Johnson and Hagan and Weber. To Spiro. To Derby and Varnum. You are the educators who have the courage to profess and to give everything from the depths of your soul into mine.
To those I may have scolded, outright threatened, blew up at – I apologize. Especially to those two boys freshman year in English Comp-I believe the words “fisticuffs” might have been thrown out there a few times.
And the mourning is seemingly never-ending. A part of me knows that moving onto the next chapter of my life is normal, even noble. I know intellectually that I have made a stain here on campus, that the recognition I get from faculty and staff, friends and acquaintances alike shows that I have made an impression. But who can’t help but wish that they had done more?
My parting legacy is unknown to me. But I do know that I will be one of the few and proud Spartans to say that I left with no regrets, no grievances, no baggage – just joy and pride.
Love this place like you built it with your own two hands, and then you will know the happiness and sorrow that comes with being lucky enough to call yourself a Castleton alum. Reject it and lose.
The Castleton way isn’t just a nuance or an unemployed concept. It can make or break the individual. My sincere hope for all those who continue here is that you can leave with the same sense of confidence and community that I am parting with. And hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to avoid the clichÃ©s, too.