It's the Little Things

I'm thinking of a movie. Not one in particular, just one with a voice-over. A narration. A liquid voice that speaks of memories, of emotions. A delivery with smooth articulation and omnipresence.

If, for today, my life were a screenplay, the moment at which I am writing these words would overlay my graduation. The handshake. The receiving of the diploma. The wagging of the white tassel in my eye(s). The awkward formality. The graduation speaker, Sully. The black robes. The mortarboards. Oh, the mortarboards.

If, for today, my life were a screenplay, the moment at which I receive my diploma would be narrated. Grandeur shots of Elliott cut to me, pursing my lips while staring at a flat-screen.

Indeed, this post is scheduled for Saturday morning--the morning of my graduation.

Like my high school graduation, I know that I will not remember the stage. I know I will not remember walking to shake someone's hand. Like community college, I will not remember what the graduation speaker says. Like community college, I will be impatient. Like high school, I will be overheated. It is graduation, but this one day--this one somewhat-rainy day in May is not what I will remember about Purdue. This is not the journey I paid approximately $80,000 for.

I will not remember today.

I will not miss the rigid seriousness. I won't miss sporting events that crowd campus. I won't miss the all-nighters, nor will I crave last-minute projects. My ability to cram for in-class English exams will fade.

I will not miss roommates. I will not miss the on-again-off-again appearance of hot water in the residence halls. I will no longer be restricted to eat within posted dining court hours. I will not miss lying about doing reading assignments. I won't have to dread going to a Jane Austen class anymore. I will not miss the pretentious bastards who think they have it "easy." I will not have to witness fervent cheating any longer. My bed doesn't have to be lofted anymore.

I don't have to clean up after a roommate who doesn't wash her hands.
I don't have to listen to a roommate talk baby-talk to her boyfriend at 2:30 in the morning.
I don't have to argue with a roommate's boyfriend about his underwear being on my desk.

I will not miss idiots on bicycles, idiots on foot or idiots in cars. I will not miss continuous construction that divides my walk to campus in half. I will not miss gossip at work or 3 a.m. drunkards. I will not miss Matt Painter or JuJuan Johnson or Purdue Pete.

I will not remember how many seats Ross-Ade Stadium boasts. I will not remember the first name of my ENGL 267 instructor, who was my first non-Caucasian professor. Ever. I will not remember how many hours I spent rewriting essays, or the number of jellybeans my Gothic Literature instructor let me have as I sobbed in her office.

I will remember the woman at Windsor Dining Court, as she donned a name tag with the name "Tink." I will remember how the bathrooms in Wetherill and the Recitation Hall smelled like steamed carrots. I will remember the late-nights at work, and the swearing involved. I will remember Insomnia Cookies and jokes about Quark. I will remember the satisfaction I felt when I discovered that yet another paper received a perfect grade. I will remember how my professors swore, my friends swore more, and my co-workers swore the most.

I will remember the "crotch trees," the fountain runs. The lapping of water from the Lion Fountain. I will remember illegally parking in some place, any place, for just a few minutes. I will remember the icy sidewalks, the lack of proper draining. I will remember the statues, and the violation of them. I will remember the too-expensive all-you-can-eat mangoes at the dining courts.

I will miss free events and free pizza (even though I hate pizza). I will miss Italian. I will miss my Italian instructor. I will miss the freedom. The freedom to do anything, anytime. The freedom to walk to the nearest residence hall at 1 a.m. to purchase a smoothie. The freedom to call a friend after work and say, "Harry's?" The freedom to return to my room at 3 a.m. and not feel guilty.

The freedom to wear what I want. The freedom to figure out what I want to wear, and who I am. The freedom to take pictures of anything, anywhere, and have no one wonder at what I am doing. The freedom to do laundry once a month. The freedom to eat. Or not. The freedom to go to class. Or not. The freedom to have sex in the 7th-floor "observatory" in Beering. (Not that I have had sex in what we call the "Jedi Room;" it's just the freedom. However, I do know of several individuals who have fornicated in said conference room.)

I will miss the copy desk at work. I will miss my friends. My loquaciously schizophrenic, coolly intellectual, ruggedly elegant friends. I will miss so many things—the inane and the impossible—nothing of which pertains to Saturday, to graduation.

Block parties and tailgating and local boutiques and rides on the Boilermaker Special and campus strolls and architecture and graffiti and expansion and Grand Prix and Bug Bowl and opportunities and computer labs and distasteful marketing and local bookstores and uneven streets and one-way streets and bureaucracies and tuition hikes and sledding at Slayter Hill and the marching band are what I will remember.

I won’t remember walking across the stage because I’ll be too busy thinking of locally-grown events, of the distinctive smell of the city, of the polluted Wabash, of sunsets from parking garages, of underground tunnels, of elevated walkways, of brick paths, of obstructed ones, of “required” reading, of past exams, of shadows and closets and trees and flowers and cultures and foods and friends.


  1. You are far and away one of my favorite Purdue people. We will all miss you terribly - your wonderful taste in everything, your knack for finding the perfect phrase, and your infinite patience with everyone and everything.

    I like saying goodbye in foreign languages because it is so rarely as final a phrase as the English "goodbye" or "farewell." "Adios" and "Adieu" are shortened versions of the medieval phrase "I commend you to god." "Au revoir" means something like "Until we meet again," but without the mustache-twirling Bond villain associations.

    Good luck with the next stage of your life, my dear. Adieu and au revoir.


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