Falling into Life

It’s true what they say: College does change you. I never liked fall before. Up until 2009, I was all about springtime: The icky snow is melting! Everything is blooming! Things are green again! My cold’s finally going away!

But things changed. Methinks it has something to do with Eastern being almost 120 years old and having lots of big trees, whereas my suburban hometown only has the mandatory parkway trees, all tiny.

The first time I visited campus was in September. While my parents and I headed back north, they asked what I thought of the place. All I could talk about were the trees. They told me there’s more to it than that, that they’re only pretty for a few months out of the year.

But those months are enough to make up for the rest of the year.

And, dreamy sigh, this is my last fall to enjoy here. Charleston really is at its finest in the fall. The sun puts light in just the right places, the monstrous trees are at different stages of changing colors, the temperature is finally cool enough that we aren’t dripping in sweat as we march from class to class. The air is full of something magical.

It was October of 2009 that things got exciting in my life. I was learning how to be a big kid. I had an English professor who encouraged me, lent me books, took me on walks around the square corridor to talk about my writing.

His birthday was in October, and it feels like this entire month was dedicated to him.

I’m graduating in 40-some days. I’ve been getting nostalgic for the innocence of those freshman days. The way my heart swelled with nerves as I walked to his class on a paper-return day. The way the air felt as it whipped my face, filled my lungs with orange and red crispness. The way the paths around campus he led the class on were so foreign back then. The way the class laughed when he told us to appreciate the beautiful campus with gorgeous gardens everywhere.

I’m enjoying them now, trying to burn every inch of campus into my memory. This place has been more homey than any place else, and knowing I’m leaving it is getting scary. My neon paper chain is getting shorter, inching toward an adulthood I’m not sure I’m ready for.

The trees are already mostly bare, the grounds crews are sweeping up and carrying off the piles of leaves on the sidewalks. Once fall turns into winter, it’ll all be downhill. A snowball of cold and school and life beating me to the bottom, graduation coming before I’m ready.

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