This weekend, I went to my 5-year reunion. For four amazing years of my life, I went to Smith College, a women’s college where I met some of the best friends I’ve ever had, some of the most inspiring professors I’ve ever found, and the most amazing partner I could have asked for. Since graduating, I’ve been back several times, to visit friends who were still students, to attend their graduations, to attend my own unofficial 2-year reunion for a much-needed dose of girl power in the midst of a year in Morocco. All of those visits have been amazing. But none have been quite like this.
This time, my 5-year reunion, was beautiful and bittersweet. I saw many wonderful friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since graduation, some of whom I’d seen regularly as long as we were in the same states. I was struck, though, by two things. First, the fact that many of my close friends from Smith were not from my graduation year, and consequently were not in attendance. Somehow, in my mind, I had envisioned that absolutely everyone I cared about from my time at Smith would be there, people who were seniors my first year and people who were first years my senior year, all rolled into one. Professors who have been retired for years would be there too. And coming back, to find that that was not the case, made the weekend feel incomplete. As though the community that I created for myself during my time at Smith was only half-present, the other half inexplicably gone.
I also realized that for the first time, I no longer know anyone at Smith other than the faculty. All of my friends have graduated now, even the youngest of them, and all the current students are strangers to me. It was strange to find that in this place, where I have felt the greatest sense of belonging, I no longer truly have a place except in memory. Moments that once seemed to extend into forever are now laid down in lavender, to be preserved and taken out as keepsakes. Everything on campus seemed smaller, less imposing than my memory had painted. Or maybe I’ve just grown.