#1: a phone note from a bus ride back from santa fe (may 4)
stars sprinkled on the canvas that is the sky; the world; cosmos. the moon shining its soft light on the clouds hovering below making them appear like little islands of cotton in the sea of unsaturated blue; yet promising another clear blue morning. the vastness of the universe flushes over me like a tidal wave; reminding me of the beauty of insignificance and the scope of the world like nothing and everything at the same time; like i'm prepared for its greatness but not really and so it hits with an incredible speed, an indescribable power -- as a reminder. of just how little everything matters, and just how beautiful that is in itself.
i think about how much you have grown. both as a person, but also physically; your shoulders no longer narrow like a school boy's; your rugged hands showing signs of aging and experience, and what used to be a constant playfulness in your eyes appearing less and less. sometimes it feels like we lead separate realities now. an inability from both, maybe. and a renunciation; a rejection; a refusal,
to accept; reflect; intercept.
the lights from the lamp posts next to the highway flash by every couple of seconds, shining their yellow light over my head leaned against the window, rotating around the bus like a merry-go-round. if someone would have turned around everytime the light flashed its shadows all around me maybe they'd notice the light reflections of wet cheeks and glossy eyes. sometimes i wish that someone did. eternal loneliness.
i think about how much me and my friends have grown during these two years. maybe myself not so much. almost the oldest yet feel the youngest. with my crooked teeth and narrow hips and naivite and ignorance. i need to get out of school for a while.
the distinct turn onto the road to the po. the lights from the castle shining like a bustling city in the night. and i guess it is, in its own way.
#2: during a moment of silence (may 7)
everything seems to flush over me in instances of silence; pausing; stepping back. tonight it hits me in lázaro's arms, our breaths in sync and our co-existing in silence, just for a little while. "i'll miss you, láz" i say under my breath and i grab his hand in mine as my voice starts to tremble. "i'll miss you too", he says and sandwiches my hand in-between his. i hold my breath not to reveal the lump in my throat but my eyes can't stop my cheeks from getting salty, drip drip drip into his gray pillows, just like drizzle has hit the tin roof outside my window every afternoon this week. i close my eyes and let my mind wander and all i can think about is the little to nothing i have left to contribute at this place. the little to nothing i seem to have left to say to the people i love and the little to nothing i seem to have left to enjoy my last few days here.
i feel eternally lonely. all the time. "i'll just never reach the same level of emotional intimacy as any of my friends have with each other" i tell lázaro. sometimes it feels like i have only him and i hate myself for that, hate being clingy, and hate forcing myself as someone's company.
this place is just a dark pit of emotion and i can't breathe.
#3: saying goodbye (may 20)
i'm alive on five ibuprofens and 4h of sleep over the past 48 hours. my eyes are swollen and my cheeks puffy and everything in my body hurts. i listen to blonde with elias one last time. on the same speakers but the opposite side of the room this time, and my head on his shoulder instead of against dewey's pillow-chair. and then jak comes in and we go to linda's house for "last chance pancakes", or "last chance cakes" as jak calls them. it's crowded and loud and so we go to the art room one last time. us, and mihir and libbie. and then bela and keegan come and it turns into a space of inside jokes that i can't relate to. i have my head on mihir's chest and sit silent for a while. before i retreat to find avital for our last moments together.
i get stuck in MB courtyard and the last four square game of the year. i sit next to hugh as we talk about sentimentality and all that this day has had to offer. shoulder to shoulder and he tells me that he just hasn't gotten mushy yet, still keeping his emotions in check. i myself have been crying almost constantly since noon; hugging people goodbye as they've been leaving throughout the day; the space between kili and denali now forever cursed with heavy emotion and dragged out goodbyes. i envy hugh for not feeling, but i also pity him because what more is there than the beauty of emotion right here and right now? how amazing is it not to feel everything oh so deeply?
and then avital comes with a napkin of pancakes and i share them with anchor and libbie. and then panic hits and i suffocate. tears come up to the surface of my eyes and "i can't be here anymore, i need to leave" i say as i determinidely walk towards my room; kili 204 with its blaringly empty walls and emptiness echoing from the shelves. kili 204 where i sat on the blue carpeted floor with simen and sudddenly asked "wait, what room are we in?" because now all rooms look the same again; as if stripped of personality. as if we were never there to begin with. anyway, at this moment in time kili 204 although not my own anymore, seems to be my place of retiration. lázaro runs after me and soon puts his arm around my shoulders and lifts me up in an attempt to cheer me up. i smile through the tears but retreat into my bed as soon as we reach my room. i capitulate. i don't want to do this anymore. i curl up and lázaro curls up next to me, spoons me for one last time, his arms hugging me tightly. i cry into my own pillows this time, feeling everything and nothing all at the same time. we fall asleep for a while and mihir comes in and sits on the chair by my desk. he reaches out his hand and i hold it tight in mine. at 11:37, lázaro rises. "i need to get something for libbie, i'll meet you there" and mihir and I carry my bags out to the buses. my heart is heavy.
the first one i hug is selina, which is terrible because it means instant weeping. i hug her for a long time before letting go. i'll miss this girl so much. i'll miss our afternoons climbing and her giggles brighting up my days; our friendship pure, like there's nothing clouding it. no judgements nor expectations; just us two, and the rocks, of course.
and then josefine and anchor and nacho and benja and grace and chloe and andy and simen and kadin and carlie and my buddy and elias and even josh and of course my tiny bean avital. all the people that i'm going to miss endlessly. and hugging mihir over and over again, my best friend and my brother. and lázaro and his yellow john deere hat. i sob in his arms.
i see doug in the distance and embrace him in a long hug. my arms reach just around his waist, my left hand holding tightly to my thumb. i cry in his arms for a long time while he murmurs his final doug-comments to me; the inspirational and motivational and sentimental ones that he always voices on the last day of class before break. "it's okay to be sad right now and it's going to be sad for a while but then it's going to be ok. you'll stay in touch with your friends, and you'll see them all again-- including me" and i can feel him doing his little indian nod with my head against his chest. "it's going to be alright" he tells me and kisses my forehead. "i love you girl, take care".
and right before i get on the bus, elias gives me one last hug. "i realized why it hurts so much to say goodbye to you -- it's like saying goodbye to a sister". i cry in his arms, my head reaching only up to his stomach.
on my last bus ride to sunport, i weep on libbie's shoulder.
and so we depart montezuma, but forever this time. i have never felt this empty in my entire life.
i say goodbye to hugh before boarding my flight to salt lake. he's in a heated discussion about...something, with pablo. i can't even recall what they were talking about, but i smile because it's so typical. i tap his shoulder and say that i'm boarding and he looks at his watch, says "really? already?" and rises into an embrace. we hug for a long time, his grip slowly getting tighter as he says his goodbyes. "keep yourself busy because you tend to overthink things. and that's coming from someone like me". small chuckle and i never want to let go. and then he says "alright get the fuck outta here" and shoos me towards my gate. "shut up" i say and hug him again. "i'll miss you, hugh" i tell him. "i'll miss you too, man". "thank you for everything". he does his signature confident nod with a crooked little smile; the one that i would hate at any other point in time because it's obnoxious and prideful and because it screams of confidence and "hey, that's just what I do" or "i gotchu" but with the sun still hiding behind the mountains, it's just not as reassuring as usual. i'm on the verge of crying and i think he is too. maybe the mush is finally hitting him. i turn around with tears in my eyes. and then i realize that there is so much more i want to say; that i admire him so much and that i'm sorry about everything. at 7:41 i send him a message: "oh also-- promise you'll let me know when you're back in the states after your gap year and we'll go climb together:)!!" the smiley without space to the words nor the exclamation marks to signify that it's a careless message, that it's casual, that i haven't thought about it at all. truth is i did think about it a lot. truth is this boy is an asshole but i'll miss him endlessly. not seeing him for at least a year is a weird thought, and truth is i can't wait until we see each other again. he replies "for sure, take care this summer and go climb some scary stuff. scary is good sometimes."
i hope he's right.
#4: on my final days, sisters, brothers, and gratitude (may 23)
i spend my last days in montezuma breathing in every moment with the deepest breaths possible. i breathe the spirit of love; devour the atmosphere of compassion; ravage the last moments i have with the people that i love. i breathe out anxiety; sigh out fear. it's so hard. graduation is making me so anxious and i'm so scared.
i try to make the most out of my last ten days. one day i go into the woods with adam, tessa, and lázaro. we eat buffalo pretzels on a blanket in the woods behind the dwan light. it's a nice afternoon.the day after that, i go climbing with selina and doug comes along. he's been wanting to 'check out what we're doing' for a while now so we invite him to our friday morning climbing session and show him upper wifi. i admire him a lot for coming with us; for being so open and honest in conversation, for being so curious, and for treating us as if we were friends rather than students, as if he could learn from us. selina and I climb some problems; the environmentalist, monday morning, and i finally figure out beta to the heel-hook problem and send it. finally. been working on it for a long time. after a while, the d-boys show up: kadin, hugh, lázaro, and jack. i love all four of them to bits. we chill out on the crashpad and the hammocks for a while, listening to doug's stories. it becomes one of my favorite mornings ever.
and the night after that becomes one of my favorite nights ever as selina, hugh, and i meet up in the fieldhouse right after check, grab the climbing pad and venture out into the woods. my headlamp is weak and i stumble across the rocks but we hike faster than ever before; night pitch black but air t-shirt warm. selina and i take silly pictures at the viewpoint and hugh climbs problems without headlamps, trusting his instincts as he climbs monday morning: a problem i freak out on even in daylight. i envy him. as we hike down from upper wifi for the last time i realize it's exactly a week left until graduation. "this time next week we'll all be on the bus to albuquerque. how strange".
on our last sunday ever, me and the girls decide to bike into town for brunch. little do we know that all the bikes are freaking broken. and all of us half-dead after our different adventures from the night before. we catch adrian as he drives up to the castle and i half-jokingly ask him if he would pick up some hitch-hikers and drive us to travelers. "sure", he replies to my surprise and we get in his van. traveler's closed. it's sunday. and mother's day. everything's closed. we wander down the strip and finally there's one restaurant that's open; new mexican. me and carlie split huevos rancheros and then we lay in the grass in a park somewhere where a kid's throwing a birthday party with bouncy castles and fancy food.
and then, after a week of freedom, studying starts again. i refuse to move into the cafeteria again, so i spend days leaving my room only to go to the bathroom. when i'm not studying, i write. i spend evenings typing up 8302 words trying to convey all the feelings i have in my heart for all the people that i love; 8302 words in memories and gratitude. i pour my heart and soul into these words; i tell people how much i admire them, how much i love them, how much they mean to me. to benja i write about our first conversation and stargazing in the pecos wilderness. to avital i write about the heady smell of lilacs on my art desk and the taste of gummy vitamins. to zsuzsa i write about our sunday evenings watching girls and to both of them i write about cohabiting, bathroom conversations, and collapsing on the blend of blue carpet underneath the yellow lights of the hallway on party nights. to doug and andrew i thank them for being role models and to my roomate i thank her for being her. to mihir i write about him becoming my brother and to simen and lázaro i write about how denali 212 became home; how my best friends were only a barefoot run away; eighteen steps over crumbly cement, balancing my steps to avoid small rocks piercing the sole of my foot. 2+4 and 3 and the sharp right turn and then simen's surprised-but-as-time-progressed-not-so-surprised-anymore face as i knock once and swing open the door. more a warning than courtesy at this point. more a saying ”hey, here i am” than asking ”can i come in?”. and then fairy lights covered with tiny lanterns and the little label saying ”laz’s life” on it hanging from the ceiling; the top ten canadians and the smell of his polo cologne filling up the room; occupying all the sweatshirts that i’ve stolen, a smell of safety and comfort and serenity that i could drown in. i spend nights carefully writing these 8302 words of feelings and memories and gratitude onto 20 swedish flags; the reek of sharpie lingering in my room.
two days before grad i write my final exam. it feels so underwhelming.
; and two days before grad i also sit in the hot springs with lázaro and i tell him "i hate this. there is just so much that needs to be done -- i need to pack up my entire room and i need to finish all my flags and there were exams until now and it's stressing me out" and he says "anneli, you've spent two years here and you've gotten the most out of every single day of those days. tomorrow's for packing, tomorrow's for being alone. tomorrow's for closure". and the day before graduation i spend alone. i spend it throwing away stuff i've accumulated over two years, packing down notes dear to me, writing by my desk, eating avocados for breakfast. but the night i want to spend with everyone else.
and so i spend it in the IT with the people that i love the most: my happy singles and the d-boys. i spend it hiding from security with karen at 1am in the morning, and i spend it freezing in the MB courtyard at 2. at 3, i'm spending it with tom and kadin and lázaro underneath the shine of his yellow ceiling light; his room painfully stripped from everything it used to be. at 4, i'm spending it losing my birkenstocks while dancing to paradise city, and at 5 i'm spending it in chum storage room with grace and zsuzsa, talking about things that hurt and at 5:30 i'm finally in bed. i set my alarm for 8:15 but i wake up at 7:30, strangely awake for having slept only two hours. zsuzsa makes eggs for breakfast and we get dressed together and then we head out to the castle stairs for our class photo. and then we spend our last moments in the library, line up for grad, walk in, walk out, hug people, and then grad is over just like that.
and then two years came to an end, just like that.
and now i have my diploma and my studentmössa and a thousands of memories that i wouldn't exchange for anything else in this world. and now, three days after everything ended, i miss it more than anything that i've ever missed.