An end, and a beginning

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
If you've been paying attention to my blog, I don't delve into personal stuff often. Or at all, really. This is a reasonably big time in my life, so I thought I'd break with "tradition" - much as a barely-active 5-year old blog can have, at least - and talk a little bit about myself.

For starters, I'm now a student of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. As I type this, the second day of class has come to an end, and I'm sitting in an empty residence hall lobby late at night; the only sounds I can hear are the air conditioning, my fingers on the keyboard, and the celebratory welcome banners brushing against the walls in time with the A/C. I'm still suffering from the stubborn vestiges of a cold I came down with over the past weekend that also took out several of my newfound friends and colleagues. Additionally, the internet has been out in my dorm room since I've moved in, so I've had to use the lobby Wifi for email and the like instead. Regardless, college life has been fun so far. Plenty of friends to hang out with, lots of campus events to go to, friendly faculty to network with - you get the idea. Contrary to popular opinion, there's more to life than what's on the internet. I've barely noticed I don't have a dorm connection except when I have to do something I can't do from my phone.

From a high school student's limited perspective, college is an interesting place. You're given enough freedom that you're basically in a loosely-padded training environment for being an adult. You're given opportunities to seriously succeed, and to seriously fail, both by your own hands. You're given the freedom to stay up at 2AM to go to Walmart to get milk, or to sit in a lobby blogging, if you want. You're free to make your own choices, and live with the consequences; there's relatively few instances where there is someone looking over your shoulder, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. For someone who has potentially lived their entire life with someone else at the wheel, that kind of freedom can be a very scary feeling, and a daunting adjustment. But enough about that.

For someone who lived at home with family their whole life - like me, for example - being away from family and old friends can be a bitter pill to swallow. For almost 2 decades, I grew used to being able to see parents and siblings when I got up, to them being there when I went to bed. I grew used to having conversational partners in my siblings that I could engage whenever I wanted, who held interests similar to mine. Being away from people that you've built such powerful connections with can be a difficult ordeal, indeed. But, it's something you have to learn to cope with. You call friends and family as often as you can, and visit when possible. You find new friends that you can trust and open up to. Maybe even discover that you have family members living nearby and visit them.
Eventually, you might lose these people too. If I get a Masters out of state, and decide not to move back to the Dallas/Richardson area, this whole process of loss will repeat. And I'll start from square 0, again. I wouldn't blame anyone in my shoes for not feeling a little depressed over the whole situation, for wondering whether or not it was worth it to build all those precious connections in the first place, only to painfully tear them all down again.
However, at the time, I know my feelings were real. I know that the memories of elated moments with friends and family were genuine, were not fake; that they were caused by me being sincerely happy to be with them in that instant. And those memories - those fleeting, ephemeral instants in time - stick with you forever, regardless of how long your friendships last. And nobody can take them away from you. I don't want to stop making them because I might be afraid the people involved might eventually leave me. It's a common occurrence, with an element of certainty to it: People drift away over time, and finally, die. But until the day that you yourself leave this earth, those memories will faithfully serve as a living testament that the people you cherished so dearly ever existed. And I think that's a beautiful thing.

So here's to making many more memories, with the many people I've met and will meet. To my parents, thank you. To my dear old group of friends, goodbye, I wish you all the best. And to all my fellow incoming freshmen: Congratulations.
Life is a continuous cycle of losses, you see. But in order to lose, you must first gain. And the greater the joy at your gain, the greater the sorrow will be at your loss. But as long as we have the memories of those happy times - indeed, because we have those memories - people are able to go on.