Do you remember our first Quinquatria, how beautiful you looked with flowers in your hair?
Do you remember the sunsets in Seoul, the sky painted orange by blowover pollution from China?
The gingko leaves looked like yellow fans.
Do you remember the chai on the street that cost 10 rupees and tasted like hot milk and cinnamon, the dust that gathered with every tuk tuk and motorbike?
What about the small rivers running through Berlin, the clusters of friends perched on bridges to drink beers and watch the sunset?
Do you remember the tall glassy WeWork across the street from us in Buenos Aires, the empanadas and sunlight that spilled into the beginning of the pandemic?
Do you remember all the things I can’t imagine? Do you remember how it felt to long to be with the people you love when we were apart?
Do you remember all the rushed flights and finals, the belongings you’ve left behind in each city? A hairbrush, a phone charger, a neck pillow. A piece of your heart.
A few weeks ago we were drinking tea that turned purple when you squeezed a lemon into it.
I would love to shake our foundation-year selves, to urge them to not take the people around them for granted. I’d tell them to stay up a bit later talking in the common rooms. To be bolder. To spend less time worrying about assignments and early classes and more time making pancakes and doing readings in parks. Did you expect our days to run out this quickly?
A week after graduation: I’ve been thinking about the migratory pattern of Minervans. Right now, there is a group of six sleeping in an RV in LA. A close friend hovering on a plane somewhere above the UAE, two others settling into the humid heat in Mexico. Four years of migrating around the world ended abruptly. What would happen if someone in our flock were to experience a crisis, celebration, or cry for help? I imagine we’d find each other again. Flights being booked, postcards being mailed. Calls to flower shops in another country.
I hope we are there to witness each other’s triumphs and tribulations. This is the first time since we’ve met that we have the chance to build a nest to call our own. A more permanent existence. Buy some plants and watch them grow, adopt a tabby cat who likes to nap in the sun. We can create safe havens for ourselves and each other, places for our wings to rest. The key is under the doormat. You are always welcome in.
Thank you for every home-cooked meal, every grocery run and hallway conversation. Thank you for what felt like eight semesters of Holi, splatterings of the brightest and messiest colors. Thank you for sharing rituals carried from home and fragments of your mind. Thank you for every time you played music in the stairwell, every Minerva talk, every time you knocked on someone’s door crying at 2am, every time you answered, every time you were brave enough to bare your soul for others to see you, really see you.
Thank you for being present, engaged, and open to what the world has to offer. Thank you for everything you’ve created and shared in response. Thank you for the sacrifices you made to take care of the people you love. There is power in a warm heart, a playful spirit. Remember to celebrate your own. I hope you hold onto the instances of joy and togetherness, collect them like warm stones resting in your back pocket. Comfort found in their weight, in rubbing your thumb over them when you feel alone. There is a scattering of people who love you in all corners of this world. I hope your heart remains open to the sound of a new language, to the idea of living somewhere you’ve never gone before.
I hope you hold onto the people who you can no longer imagine your life without.
As we move on, don’t forget how saturated life can be. Minerva was a triple fudge chocolate cake of experiences, rich and dense. Let the sweetness linger as you discover other ways to live. Perhaps there will no longer be a sugar rush. But the new ways may be more sustainable, may suit you better. Leave you nourished for years. There will still be moments that swell with chaos and laughter and adventure, no destination in sight. An expedition to chase the sunset to the ocean. A trip to see your first year roommate get married. A decision to go backpacking across South America, to finally see the mountains in Patagonia. I hope there is also emptiness in between: afternoons where the only thing you do is stare at the baby blue sky and think about how clouds sway with the breeze.
Don’t forget how extraordinary (™) you are. You have the capacity to make the world more compassionate, equitable, and innovative. I know this because I’ve heard you speak in class, walked alongside you, argued with you, cried with you, and broke bread with you countless times in half a dozen cities around the world. Have confidence. You are resilient, brilliant, and inspiring. Don’t be afraid to take up space.
Back to Corona Heights, the night of graduation. Someone is taking bites out of the moon, erasing it with a marker till it bleeds red and demands to be redrawn, fuller, brighter.
People are sleepily gathering in swaddles of blankets and moving down the rocks. Ubers are being called, flights are demanding last minute packing. I am sitting here, unable to confirm anything except the beauty of this moment, this life. Mosquitos circling. When will be the next time we will meet? This departure is sad only because we created so much joy when we were together. I am hopeful because if we did it once, perhaps we can do it again.
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