Trying to explain D.C. is like trying to tell you how I have fallen in love with a person you have never met. If you ask me, I will tell you about places and events and moments. I will relate to you quirks and small, precious details. When I smile to myself, you will ask, “What?” and I won’t have a good answer, except that the memory just makes me smile.
If you ask – really ask and want to know – I am happy to tell you, but you will be only a listener, separated from the reality of my stories by an entire world of experiences.
I feel like I’m asking myself about loving D.C. right now. I wonder what it was that I loved, so I keep telling myself the stories, but it feels so far away.
In other moments, D.C. feels so close, like there is a single pane of glass between my experiences and the place I am now. I am so close to those memories, yet I cannot truly reach out and touch them, or figure out their meaning.
It’s the same with my entire college experience, in many ways. My time SPU feels like a long-lost dream, and I am trying to remember what was good and terrible and wonderful and challenging and hard. With commencement just around the corner, I want to reflect on college and write something beautiful about what the last four years have meant to me.
To do that, though, I would have to generalize and package it nicely; I would have to lie about some things, and I am not ready to do that yet. I still want honesty from myself. I still expect honesty; I have nothing to hide from myself.
But it is so hard to write honestly. Sometimes the words just don’t come; sometimes when they do, they don’t fully capture the emotion or the moment. I look back on my freshman, sophomore, and junior years and I cannot remember what it was like to be myself then. I remember the struggles, but I can’t feel the tears or the joy or the anger. I remember what I felt, but I cannot capture how I felt.
One night last week, I went through all of my personal writings from the last few years, and I concluded that the best phrase I ever wrote was in a birthday letter to a friend when I said, “Maybe someday I’ll tell this story and laugh instead of cry.”
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Now that’s what I want to read in my birthday card.” Perhaps it’s not something I should have written in a birthday letter, but I am glad I did. That sentence is sad, yes, but it was also honest and true — and that’s what I wish I could write now.
After all, humans (or maybe it’s just me) have a distinct tendency to misremember things, and I want to do the opposite. I want to remember the ways it felt to be me – awkward freshman, confused sophomore, broken junior. I feel as though I have been becoming more of myself all this time, and I would go through it all again to get here.
So when I reflect my time at SPU and my year in D.C., I want to tell myself the stories and not just listen politely. I want to explain how I fell in love with myself and not nod and say, “Well, isn’t that nice. I’m glad you had a good experience.”
I want to write clearly and honestly and openly.
But right now D.C. feels so far away and the words just won’t come.