Just spent a melancholy half-hour on the bus, listening to the Decemberists' 2011 album The King is Dead. Oh, the first half-hour of the ride wasn't bad, read Enos, listened to a book about crusades, but the second half, staring out the window listening to the music that had so moved me a year ago, I got to nostalgia.
I'm constitutionally prone to nostalgia, especially at the turning of the seasons: late spring and early fall. This time I started thinking of all the people who used to be such a part of my life, part of the routines of my days and weeks, who simply aren't any more. They've moved or I've moved and they keep moving and I keep moving. Jon Stoddard who went to Utah or Jon Johnson, who just went 20 miles south; Carrie von Bosie, who used to run grad student lunch, or Beth who used to haunt the institute building. Amy and Lindsey who I used to live with. My sister who is now two moves away from San Antonio--I don't even turn onto the street by her house on autopilot anymore. And on top of this, nothing has changed at all: I'm still studying at UT, doing much the same thing I've been doing for the past 4 years, which is the same as I've been doing for the past 10 years.
And I think back on all the times I've felt that swelling love, perhaps encapsulated by that beautiful album, which made me look around at humanity and want to take care of them all, listen lovingly to them, and I think, "And for all that, everything keeps changing."
Soon, I'll be part of that change. Not this year. I'm not one of the people graduating, moving on, leaving, who will become ghosts on my Facebook page and I will be pleased and surprised when I run into them in person in the future--Sara Snow, Rachel Hatch, Tony Torres. But someday that will be me. How glad I am that I'm not graduating this year. This year, though, will be my last year.
This week and next are the last lingering days of the semester, with graduation ending up the parade of awards banquets and end-of-semester lunches and happy hours. And after that, the clock begins to tick downward. The last summer musical at Zilker, the last 4th of July party, the last unholy hot August, the last my birthday (turning 30, itself a weighty milestone), the last Halloween, the last St. Nicholas for my friends, the last Burnet city Bethlehem, the last flight home from Austin, the last flight back, the last book selection for First-year Forum, the last UT class, the last spring break, the last Easter service, the last wiener dog races, the last day of a 25-year education. The future is littered with lasts.
I want to do all of it, want to drink it in and keep all of it, but then, also, that dark sadness seeps in that whispers, "It's always been lasts. It always will be."