All of a sudden, graduation has arrived. Time seems to have accelerated to these last few weeks of college, and I find a certain sadness sink into me as it always does when I know impending good-byes exist. At this stage in life, we are all on the way to somewhere, caught between departure and arrival. Greetings and good-byes wistfully blend together: Good-bye for now; hello, maybe later. I’m having a hard time with the idea of this ending chapter. I’m in no hurry to move on – I’d like to stay in this intermediate stage for a little longer. It’s a place where moments and memories seem to take on the golden hour glow, where time paints everything a contemplative rosy hue.
On my last day of classes, I made my way to Commons (the freshman living space on campus) and sat on the patio finishing up a paper. Paper done, and finding myself with half an hour before class started, I did a little bit of web-surfing on a favorite site or two, and I came across this beautiful article. Somehow both the writing and the accompanying pictures encapsulated everything I was feeling in the moment – nostalgia, excitement, wistfulness, and waiting. But there was something else also present: a slight restlessness that I came to recognize as the anticipation of loneliness derived from imminent diaspora.
Looking back, loneliness from diaspora has colored many aspects of my college career, not in a negative way, necessarily, but existent nonetheless. From freshman year, where I admitted my homesick loneliness really only to myself, to spending a semester abroad, feeling independent and adventurous but never getting used to the loneliness of living in a single apartment and traveling solo, I find myself again in a stage of intermediacy. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, where I need to be, and in all clichéd form: what my place is in this world. In truth, a part of diasporic loneliness will always be with me, as I tend to believe it is with every individual.
My group of college friends, several of whom know me better than anyone else in my life – are all scattering, moving to different cities, universities, jobs. We will be meeting new people, traveling to new places, picking up, moving on, and maybe in some cases, letting go or coming back to old college relationships. As we grow and learn in an increasingly global environment, the chance to call multiple places and people “home” is ever-present; our identities are inevitably shaped by diaspora. At this stage in my life, there are so many unknowns, and while there is excitement woven into starting a new chapter in life, there also exists a craving for the ever ephemeral definition of “home.” Is it a person or a place? Perhaps, if we are lucky, it is both. We all share the experiences of growing up and moving on, and I think we each feel the loneliness resulting from the continuous flux of change and constancy. Wistful wandering and wondering are essential to defining and developing who we are as individuals.
How lucky it is, I tell myself, to have left my heart in that place, to have loved that person for the time that I did. How wonderful to be so far on the way to somewhere. When I walk across the stage to get my diploma, I know there will be excitement, a quiet pride of accomplishment; but for now, I hope to dwell in this stage of intermediacy, feeling grateful and at peace for all that has happened and all that is to come.
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