It seems like yesterday that we were saying goodbye to our parents as they pulled away from our first-year dorm rooms, after a long day of making sure that our bed was raised correctly, or if we had enough command strips. It seems like a lifetime ago that we had shower shoes and name tags on our doors in hopes that we would walk around and introduce ourselves to our neighbors. I think many of us would give the word to live in Campion Hall or eat in the Tully one last time. We now find ourselves a month away from graduation day, where we will hug and cry and realize that we were the lucky ones. We went to the greatest place in the world with the greatest people. We were so blessed and although we knew it in the time, we didn’t know how good we had it until we didn’t have it anymore. It may be one of the most bittersweet feelings we will ever feel.
September first was one of the greatest days. Students moved their things into their small houses, set up beach chairs outside to take full advantage of the beautiful weather and setting that they would then call home. All was good in the world and we seniors were about to embark on what could be one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. There was so much hope that after a strange spring and summer, we would finally go back to normal. We hoped it would be a COVID free oasis, where we could dance around the Seagrape Cafe and live in a world where the virus simply didn’t exist. That dream was quickly shot down the first day. The white party, The Grape and our cherished point days were not anywhere near what we had hoped and dreamed they would be. People constantly apologize to us that “our senior year was so different than normal years.” Yes, that it was, but in retrospect, many, if not all of us, wouldn’t change it for the world. We became inseparable with people we didn’t even know before. We became friendly with the bartenders at The Grape and Jimmy from the liquor store down the road. We quarantined together, grilled together and sometimes, maybe studied together. We learned the importance of community, teamwork and of course the forgotten idea that your friends really are your family.
That being said, May 23 will be a day of many emotions. We will wear white dresses but there will be no ceremony. We will sleep in our small beach houses and stand in the sand as we lock our back doors one last time. We of course will walk away with tears in our eyes, saying goodbye to the greatest gift any of us have been given. We will be grateful for the year we had, the memories we made, but we will regret not having done certain things. Then again, that’s the case with everything. There will always be regrets, but the good outweighs the bad any day.
I often tell people that these were the best four years of my life. I said the same when I graduated high school. The truth is every chapter of our lives is wonderful. They are different, but they introduce us to new places, people and most importantly the love that we share with those. We have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Of course, the education and degree are why we come to places like Fairfield, but at the end of the day all we have is each other. I think we learned that especially in the past year; to cherish the little things and to live each day in the greatest capacity possible. Wake up early for the sunrise, have that glass of wine, take the house shot on that Tuesday you said you were going to stay in. We only live this life once and the one good thing COVID gave us is the realization that we need to start living that life and so we did.
Thank you, Fairfield Beach Road, thank you to The Grape, to Jimmy from the liquor store and most importantly to the university for giving us this experience. We will forever be indebted to you. I wish those who have yet to experience this feeling great happiness. I am truly envious of you. You are about to embark on a year of nothing but happiness and love. It truly has been the pleasure of a lifetime learning, loving and being a stag. May 23 will be a day full of gratitude but with very heavy hearts and I wouldn’t change that for the world.