Natalie rubbed at my shoulder, asking if I still wanted to run. My eyelids fluttered in and out of vision as my thoughts strived to articulate a stern, “No.”
The past fourteen days have expanded into sleepless nights, early mornings and hours in the air. As I prepare to head tropical, I have innumerable blessings to count before relocating to another momentary lifestyle. The previous return to my Cincinnati roots continue to embolden my fate in terms of goals and friendships, and the individuals who have impacted such an insight to my worldly perspective have yet to fail as motivators and cheerleaders.
While my proud alumni have dispersed across the map, both geographically and socially, they did so with diligence. After all, we migrated to Xavier University from across the nation, remodeling a life while earning an education. For me, Xavier provided a chance to exist in city limits, live a day’s commute from home, and prove myself worthy of responsibility. Collectively, we managed to hoover above GPA standards and social expectations. Our mindset focused within the bubble of campus boundaries, expanding in zip codes as our wallets grew and our ID’s legitimatized. As we neared commencement day, we distanced ourselves from the ordinary and prepared for the “real world”.
Throughout the sixteen months since graduation, we have encountered the unimaginable. Whether we are continuing our education, transplanting, or preparing patiently for the next big move, we rely on reciprocal support. The people we once considered acquaintances become evanescent confidants during drunken conversations. Our arms spread open for all who are familiar:
“How the hell are you?!”
We exclaim with a smile on our face and a glass in our hand.
We know nothing but the tales spoken via word of mouth and social media, intrigued with what the old classmate has to confess.
We seek out changes in each other’s appearance, some more noticeable than others.
We scan, listen, and sympathize simultaneously throughout the dialogue, genuinely happy for one another.
The small talk could end in a quick “take care”, depending on the listener.
While a reunion weekend is predominately “catching up”, the colleagues asking the difficult questions and professing sincere appreciation weed out the population.
The ones who listen carefully and offer raw opinions will forever stay in my radar.
While few bonds fuse naturally, I often reflect on the traits which attracted me to a person initially.
I pick apart their characteristics, recognizing what is effortless and what requires adapting.
Each friendship is unique from the next, a garden of rare flowers and exotic cacti, ranging in degree of maintenance.
Though this garden is abundant, I must tend it from afar.
“Goodbye” is a word thrown around so frequently, there’s no telling when “Hello” will be spoken again.
Dates are intangible, but reunions are assured.
Though the inseparable years during undergrad formed unconditional friendships, we must move forward. Much like the words of St. Ignatius, our duty as a jesuit advocate is one of progression:
“Go Forth and Set the World on Fire”