I didn’t plan on crying at graduation last year. And flipping back through red-faced, bleary-eyed photos, I kind of wish I hadn’t.
At the time, I chalked up the uncharacteristic weepiness to be some kind of delayed reaction to senior cry, or symptom of sleep deprivation. But now, sitting at a long rectangular table in my college dorm’s dining hall “burning the midnight oil,” I know exactly why I cried last May.
Piece by piece over the summer, tangible evidence of Deerfield dissolved into memory. Email accounts were de-activated, DAinfo access blocked, and crisp DA-Door-stamped letters stopped arriving.
Then I plunged into college, and green face paint became orange, a cinderblock double room replaced my spacious high-ceilinged single, and Cinnamon Mini-Wheats replaced Cracklin’ Oat Bran in the dining hall cereal dispensers. Now Deerfield is a memory, an abstract fantasyland of iridescent green and perfect brick-lain paths. And that’s what I was crying about.
Graduation day for me seemed to be the last time that Deerfield would be a tangible, real place.
And it’s been partly true; as I scuff my Uggs across a new campus past different faces, Deerfield exists in an alternate reality. My three years in the Valley seem like an extremely elaborate, trippy hallucination. It’s as if Deerfield has receded into the dream world.
Now as my first college exam week looms and procrastination becomes an art, I end up perusing old photos often. But looking through disco pictures of neon-clad sophomores posing in the halls of Poc and autumn shots of cleated athletes, Deerfield still doesn’t seem real.
So, here’s my advice: don’t rely on your camera’s photos and friends’ Facebook albums for preserving Deerfield. Instead, every once in a while, in true Robert Frost fashion, pause for a moment and take your own mental picture. Maybe just before you open the dining hall door to sit-down’s chaos, and the quad behind you is perfectly silent. Or when the first snow gives Main Street untouched perfection you’ve only seen in a snow globe. Or while you’re walking down Albany Road with an entourage of friends and feel like you own the world.
That way after you graduate and wherever you end up, you can close your eyes and at least for a second, be back home at Deerfield.
* Lucy Cobbs, former Editor-in-Chief, is a freshman at Princeton.