I have been waiting to save this story for my last blog post, because I am a believer in things that come full circle.

I didn’t want to go to Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr wanted me to go to them. I don’t know how they found me to be honest. But they did- having sent me about a tree trunks worth of informational flyers and mail, they finally reached out to me using a human being. The admissions ambassador was sweet, and very kind, and seemed interested in me as a person, even if I didn’t decide to come to BMC. We would email back and forth every so often, her usually giving me helpful hints on how to apply and reminding me that it would all work out. I mentioned very briefly that I ran, and she immediately put me into contact with the cross country team, who sent me love and support as I applied for colleges. Realizing that I had a small close knit unit who seemed interested in me attending this far off institution, I decided to give it a chance. So- I looked more into the all-girls school that was smaller than my public high school. It was ranked very highly, seemed to have a good community, and was out of Florida. Check, check, check. I applied and I waited.

I got in.

Jump to April 2013, a miserably cold day in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and an even colder day for me- having just spent the early morning hours flying from Miami to Philadelphia. I arrived later to the campus than expected because the taxi driver had “gotten lost”, and had taken the longest way possible to campus to hike up my bill. Already car sick and dreading the campus tour, I yanked out my overnight bag, and entered the admissions office. I wish I could tell you that the Spring flowers were in bloom, and that the admissions office was warm and nice and it was love at first sight, but it was raining, I was alone, and I was already dreading the next 24 hours. I was realizing how far away PA was from my home town, especially all of my friends who would be staying in state to go to some of the largest schools in the country. I reminded myself that I had gotten a nice scholarship, and that made this school an option for me, and I needed to suck it up and get through it. Plus my parents loved it. Having been college educated themselves, Bryn Mawr had always been a name they had associated with success. So for them I needed to pretend to entertain this as a possibility.

My hosts arrived soon afterwards. First years living in Brecon, they seemed to bring a bit of life into the otherwise empty campus. They huddled me under their shared umbrella, and walked around the campus holding me close, telling me about locations, classes, their experiences, where they were from- all while carefully guiding me around puddles and adjusting themselves to protect me as the rain fell harder. I didn’t think they did it on purpose to impress the admitted student (me), I think they did it because it was their personalities to want to help others. We slowly approached Brecon, and they helped me to their room, where they had built me a makeshift bed. Realizing that I didn’t have much with me in terms of bedding, the two women had reached out to their hall mates and had gotten an extra comforter, a squishy yoga mat to be used as a mattress, an extra sheet, two extra pillows, and a stuffed animal for me to use (just in case).

That night was spent sitting in their room as waves of people came to greet me. It was the most bizarre feeling- like a family member that had been long gone had been returned, and all of the extended family was coming to welcome me back home. It was like everyone knew that someone new was here, and they were happy to have me here, asking me questions, answering the things I brought up, making sure I was comfortable, bringing me things they thought I would need. As the night wore on, my guard lessened and lessened, and I became less afraid of this unfamiliar place. My hosts were with me the entire time, and they made sure that I knew I could be alone if I wanted to be (I didn’t).

The next day I was greeted by another round of students who wanted to know if I wanted to join them for breakfast. The night had brought about another wave of anxiety, so being a bit more shy I agreed, but didn’t do much talking. I think they picked up on that, making sure that I had space to myself but still felt included. At the time I didn’t know how they could pick that up, but I soon realized it was a trait most Bryn Mawr students had. They walked me to the class that I would be sitting in on, promising me that they would come back for me once it was done.

They did. They were on time, and waiting for me when it was over. They were asking me how it was, gossiping about the Professor and lovingly teasing him. The little promises kept made me feel good, and the class itself had seemed interesting. It wasn’t so big and scary and unknown anymore- it seemed a bit more like home. I wanted to feel at home here, and I did as I walked alongside complete strangers laughing at something that had happened days before. If I could melt into this world, I would have done it in a heart beat. Everyone seemed so nice and kind and put together, and here I was- just a nervous little senior who wanted to get out of Florida so badly, but still couldn’t decide if she had it in her to leave home and everything behind.

But would I really be leaving home if BMC became my home?

On the airplane back to Miami I cried. I knew that I only had one choice and I would forever kick myself if I didn’t go to this mysterious place tucked away in the Philadelphia suburbs. I felt that I was leaving one home for another, and I didn’t know if I had it in me to leave my life behind, especially when everyone at home were continuing on together. It was like I was going left, when every one else was going right. Despite my worry, I knew it was the right thing to do.

I can tell you all about the journeys I had, the people I met, and the person I’ve become at Bryn Mawr. I can tell you about the strength I have gained and the independence I’ve accumulated. I can tell you about my accomplishments and my failures, and how this small historically women’s college has shaped the being that I now inhabit, but unfortunately this story is about leaving Miami for Bryn Mawr, and now leaving Bryn Mawr for an even lesser unknown. You see, I’m leaving home again. This time, for the last time. My childhood home still exists in the memories of my mind, and the physical space of my parents, but I know when I leave Bryn Mawr, it will never be the same. Constantly changing with the students who come through it, Bryn Mawr will mesh and mold to their needs. The finality in which I leave is heart breaking- having chosen to leave my homes in the past, I knew I could return, but not now.

With time, I expect the sadness to fade away a bit, but I still expect to look back on Bryn Mawr with fondness and a wish to close my eyes and be back walking alongside complete strangers laughing at something that had happened days before, realizing that I was at the top of the world, crying happy tears in a cramped flight back to Miami, realizing that for the first time I had a home that wanted me long before I had wanted it. In the end, leaving home has never been so hard.

(eighty nine) or falling into place

In eight days I will be walking across the stage on Merion green and accepting my diploma. It seems surreal to me, but as the days count down closer and closer, things have began to fall into place for me. I have successfully moved all of my earthly belongings into my new apartment with Pam. I still have my bedding at Bryn Mawr/am living out of a suitcase, but it feels good to have everything I own in one spot without worrying about moving out on the day dorms close. My apartment feels like a cozy little haven to me, completely full with all the things I love, most importantly all of the plants I’ve been growing over the last couple of years.

I officially accepted a job and will be beginning May 15th, just two days after graduation. Although the turn around time is quite quick, I find that I am already looking forward to my next big adventure, and see myself getting excited at the prospect of working. Although I’m sure I’ll wish I had a few days to relax and take to myself, I have the personality that makes me want to do things and keep going, so I think in the long run this is really the best option for me. The people that I’ll be working with seem very similar to me, and although I don’t want to jinx it, I think we’ll get along very well.

To top it all off, I was awarded the McPherson. I am so incredibly thrilled that I was chosen out of all the deserving and dedicated candidates- it honestly feels like a dream. I hope that my experiences and time served with the Bryn Mawr community has positive impacts on future generations, and hopefully makes things a bit easier for future Mawrtyrs.

All in all, everything is beginning to fall into place. After a year of trying to get things in order for my future, my future is finally here- it’s looking bright, and I’m looking forward to it. For the first time in a long time I feel content with every aspect of my life. Although it’s going to be taking a big change, I am looking forward to what life has in store for me and the people that I care about.

(eighty eight) or may day

Yesterday was my last ever May Day as an undergraduate. I think out of all of my May Days, it was by far the best. Unfortunately for me, the last couple of May Days have been bit dreary- my freshmen year it was about 50 degrees and raining, my sophomore year my girlfriend was running around so I couldn’t spend much time with her, and my junior year it rained so hard the ground was turned into mud within about ten minutes of the day starting. With this being my history, I didn’t have high hopes for this tradition.

I had always heard wonderful stories about how other class years had sunny, warm, beautiful May Days, where you would bring a picnic blanket out onto Merion green, eat some snacks, and listen to music. Those seemed like far away fairy tales, as I would gaze out from whatever common room was open to my friends and I, watching the rain hitting resilient classmates in white apparel. I had enjoyed all the other traditions afforded to me, but some how May Day would always end up in ruins- wet, cold, and slightly miserable. It felt more like we were going through the motions than actually enjoying this day for us. This year, however, was the first year that is was decently sunny and warm enough to go outside!

My friends and I got an excellent spot right near the stage, we opened up out snacks, and laid out in the sun. People would stop by and stay with us for a bit, would leave to go play the games, come back with more food, etc. For the first time, I had a really enjoyable May Day- and thank goodness too because this was the last chance I had! I got to get a glitter tattoo, get a soft pretzel, make arts and crafts, and really enjoy all of the fun games that the Students Activities office had put together for us. Pam and I bopped around all day, enjoyed the breeze and company of passing friends.

PLUS I got to participate in another tradition- ringing Taylor Bell to signal that I was done with all of my undergraduate work. I think I was the first person to ring the bell- I’m not 100% sure of course, but I’m going to go with it.

It was really nice to also see so many Alums coming out. It seemed to me that this year a lot of alums from a wide variety of class years had come to join us, so that was really cool. They also had their own alternative alum step sing while the undergraduates were having their own, which I think is both respectful and really good for them to have a space that they can participate in.

As school draws to a close I’m a bit sad and a bit tired, but I’m excited to relax and unwind before we all graduate.