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I love you

has been on the tip of my tongue for the past month. I want to climb up to the top of the SciLi and shout it at the top of my lungs, which is admittedly (a) not allowed and (b) kind of dangerous. But still, I’d do it for you, even if only in my imagination.

You

are my super-swag gal-pal, and my forever roommate. You are the person who first cried with me at Brown, our young freshman hearts stricken with insecurity—and you are the one who, after three years, still screams into a karaoke mic like a caffeinated chihuahua. You are my chosen sister, and my actual brother, and his friends, and her friends, and my family. You are the saintly Chinatown employee who slipped two free chicken wings into my order, and even if you didn’t realize it, you cooked me my first homemade meal in Providence. You held the elevator door open for me when I was late to class, and you bumped into me at someone else's freshmen orientation. You are the stranger I saw on my way to dinner yesterday. Yes, you, reader—you. I love you, I really do. 

They say that repetition devalues meaning, but I just can’t help myself. Being here at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in flesh, bone, and 4K technicolor feels like a fever dream. I am holding onto every wisp of community and friendship that I can, clinging to it all like a child clings to her mom, pretending to be calm and asleep when what she really wants is to be in those warm arms forever. 

I’ve been telling people that my senior year feels like freshman year all over again, with all the excitement and eagerness of a fledgling bird, minus the insecurity. Granted, there do exist niggling voices that tell me I’m still not good enough, I want people to like me, I hope I didn’t seem dumb in class just now, I hope I’m not sabatoging what could have been a “perfect” college experience, I’m eons behind, is anything I’m doing right at all? But then, no, I tell myself. You know what, I survived a pandemic, and I have people who care about me. I’m here and in love, and that’s all that counts. 

It occurred to me the other day that if being “head over heels” signals an exhilarating romantic journey, then we are all irrevocably in love. I mean, unless we’re hanging upside down on the monkeybars, our heads are literally always over our heels. We’re walking to the SciLi, and the Blue Room, and New Dorm (not Greg, you animal), our brilliant heads peeking over our shuffling heels. And we say hello to each other in passing, and we say, “Let’s grab a meal sometime soon,” and we hold the doors for and lend pens to each other. Somehow, we collide at these exact moments, in these exact ways. Whether or not we’ve met before, somehow we spark an iteration of love. Isn’t that a beautiful idea, that we’re all in love with little bits of each other? 

Autumn

is a poem I stumbled upon the other day, which starts with “In the evening, / every arrangement feels intentional,” and ends with “The porch swing creaks, / and there is no name you know / for this feeling / that the world is full / of just about everything / you haven’t lost yet.”

Autumn is also a season fast approaching, its arrival in Rhode Island signaled by chilly weather, the scent of pumpkin spice, and a plenitude of colorful, withering trees. In one respect, autumn is a season of departure—literally “fall.” In my first semester at Brown, I did feel like everything was falling apart: everything I knew about the world, everything I knew about myself. But now back for my fourth and final year of stomping on the Pembroke seal and stashing Ratty bananas in my backpack, I wonder what it is about New England autumn that feels so... lovely. This year, autumn reminds me “of just about everything / [I] haven’t lost yet.” And I wonder why that is. 

I mean, the unfamiliarity of freshman year hasn’t fallen away (haha, get it), and I imagine it never will. I still wonder what I’ll do after I graduate, what my friends think of me, if I’m phoning my mom enough. I have not grown well-versed in predicting the future. I’ve only become more comfortable drifting with the current of life, like a bright red autumn leaf slipping from one season to the next. I keep wondering why that is. And although they say that repetition devalues meaning, I can’t help but keep basking in the wonder.

Is it because I’ve finally reached my “point of maturity”? Is it because a year and a half of quarantine rattled me into gratitude? Is it because, according to Today@Brown, I am now a fourth-year, or because I learned how to pay my own utility bills?

Maybe the real answer, as it always seems to be, is you. Maybe it’s why I love you so much, and also why my heart, for the fourth and final time, is so full.



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