Dear Vanguard University of Southern California,
As I stare down my last 24 hours before what would have been my graduation, lost in a sea of boxes and a tornado of now useless syllabi, a common question rings through my head, “How do you feel about being done?”
It seems as if every person I have spoken to this week has plagued me with this inquiry, and I simply give them the same shallow answer:
“I’m just trying to get through this week.”
The truth as it seems is that I don’t know how I feel. These past four years protected within the walls of the “Vanguard Bubble” have been nothing short of bitter-sweet. You have brought me so much joy, and yet you have hurt me so, and as I prepare to say goodbye forever I am torn between yearning to stay and being relieved to finally leave.
My reason for my inner turmoil is simple really. The Vanguard that I fell in love with as a senior in high school and that I entered into as a starry-eyed freshman is not the same Vanguard that I leave as a college graduate. Perhaps I have simply grown apathetic over the years, but the romance that burned between this student and her university has burnt out so long ago that I don’t know when I started falling out of love with you.
This is not to say that I am devoid of all love and affection concerning you, but something has surely shifted in that affection. I love the memories I have made with you, the late WooFest of freshman and sophomore year, the Halloween “Harvest” Parties, students throwing an apple across the late Caf and catching it on a fork, the “clapping” trend in the same late Caf whenever someone would drop something and the whole room would erupt in applause, and watching Popular Demand’s improve shows late into the night.
I love the professors who have steadily built me up from the terrified, insecure girl that I arrived as. Professors like Doody, Preasmyer, Dr. Russum, and Dr. Hatch who have all pushed me and inspired me to never be satisfied with just who I am now, but to continue to grow beyond this. While not all of the assignments were enjoyable, what I learned through enduring them I believe has made me better. I will never be able to thank them enough for all they have given me and how they taught me how to make my story matter.
I love the people I have met and the friends I have made, my RA’s from the last three years, my roommates–most of whom I have loved, and my church who at this time is still located on your campus. If it weren’t for your past relationship with NMC, I never would have met the people that I love most in this life, and my reason to stay in Costa Mesa. And while my relationships with students found on your campus are few and far between, the relationships I have developed at NMC are the most beautiful that I have ever had. While this is not directly your doing, you gave me this opportunity to fall in love with someone new, and I have fallen hard.
Perhaps this is why I am so torn. The divorce of my first love and my current love has left me reeling for which side I should seek for some sort of haven. But if that is the case, then I fear that you are not the one I pick.
Maybe that is due to the fact that my time in your “Bubble” is rapidly coming to a close and now I will need to find someone else to keep me anchored. Then again, maybe the answer is more simple: we both have changed. Those places where I hold the most memories are gone. Outtakes and the Caf both murdered for the recently opened Student Center–that I have only stepped foot in once since it has finally been finished. Woofest is long done and gone with, most students unknowledgeable to what it even was. And me, living off your campus for the first time since I moved down to California, one degree hotter, and at a loss for where my last four years went.
I am no longer that same terrified freshman with the mushroom-top haircut always reeking of sunscreen, unsure if she could make it as an English major, and utterly confused with why she felt God call her to pursue it. While I still don’t have all the answers, I’m sure that I made the right decision pursuing you.
As I pack my last box with the history of our relationship, I still don’t have an answer to that first question. How do I feel about being done? But perhaps it is best that I remain indifferent and not allow my heart to break for either side.
With all my bittersweet love,