Of all my groovy hobbies, cooler-than-thou pastimes, and maybe fully-developed interests, I wouldn't call crying my favorite. Yet I hardcore love it—the really physical kind that means involuntary shuddering, flared nostrils, and the unstoppable squeeze of my entire face, contorted like a sneezing newborn. You know those girls who flap their hands rapidly at their watery, blinking eyes, looking upward to prevent mascara runs, crying, "I hate crying! I never cry!" That's not the kind of woman I am. Give me all the inability to emit coherent noises, all the undignified leakage. Give me the senior feels.
Luckily for me, it's now entirely appropriate to engage in a little catharsis get-down. Nay, it's absolutely imperative, morally essential to cry in my last few months of college.
And I'm running out of time.
For some reason, I can't cry as easily as I once could. I've been blessed with my share of self-loathing in a perennial job search, a paralyzing fear wrought by my thesis, an unshakeable, messy trail of regrets, and the impending sayonara to a campus that I've learned to love and call home. But I can't freaking cry. I wait, anticipate, but except for a few false starts, my body simply won't allow it.
Admittedly, I caught a few drips last week, watching a video of Meryl Streep address the Barnard class of 2010. She ended her speech by saying, "You know, you don't have to be famous. You just have to make your father and mother proud of you. And you already have."
Damn. I mean, dammit. I mean, holy hell, Meryl gets me every time. I sniffled a bit, overwhelmed by the enormous implication that I had achieved something here to make my parents' hard work, money, time, and especially love worthwhile. Maybe I wept because, honestly, sometimes I'm not so sure that I've accomplished anything deserving of their pride.
Let's review: Satisfaction with my grade-point average is a recent phenomenon. Involvement in campus activity, let alone impact, feels mediocre at best. Not to mention the puzzling dearth of invitations to those darn tootin' secret societies. And let's just not talk about impressive, career-starting internships in Midtown. To sum up, I'm feeling pretty weird about how I spent my time at Barnard.
That's why, despite my appreciation, fondness, and borderline dependence on this school, I'm eager for May 17, 2015—the Barnard Commencement ceremony. I'm counting on a good cry.
The graduation speech itself is irrelevant. The speaker could elegize on the status of being a Barnard woman and how it makes us, duh, awesome. I don't care if she infuses me, by sheer proximity, with her badass lady smarts and magnificent power—though that'd be cool. Shoot, the Barnard speaker could implore me to save the world, or at least warn me of the impossibility of the task. I don't care what she says. She just needs to make me cry.
I haven't decided whether it'll be a sob session with my gal pals or a quiet, elegant trickle down my cheek. Yet, no matter the watery form, I want to celebrate everything that is weird about attending Barnard.
I want to cry for the first-year unlimited meal plan that never actually left my hips, the unreturned hellos on Broadway, the word "affiliated," the magnolia tree and the first time I experienced spring, the odor of stress in Butler 209, the sign-in policy, the legendary visit from Harry "Sex God" Potter on Low Steps, the calming rumble of the subway, the myth of doing all the reading, the boys I've dated, the baffling Constellation groups, the familiar face during study abroad, and of course, the friendships that I've made, loved, and sometimes even abandoned.
I'm not purely indulging in nostalgia. What I'm now trying to accept is a story that involves a lot of failure, shame, awkwardness, and giving up. That means cherishing an experience as it actually happened, as something strange and painful but also formative and lovely.
I might not cry on graduation day. But I do hope that emotions of relief, triumph, joy, amusement, and even sadness flood me as I celebrate everything that happened here.
Laura Allen is a Barnard senior majoring in English. She is a former associate copy editor for Spectator and the president of the Barnard Outdoor Adventure Team. Laurem Ipsum runs alternate Thursdays.
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