Oberlin Blogs

Some Other Time

May 10, 2015

Emily Wilkerson ’15

Three weeks ago it hit me that I'll be leaving Oberlin soon. Not that it hadn't occurred to me before, it had. I've spent a lot of my energy this year thinking about what's going to happen after Oberlin - with anxiety at first, then with excitement after finding out that I got the Fulbright. But it wasn't until three Saturdays ago that I started to feel the emotional weight of that leaving.

I was standing with my bike outside of Hall, having just watched the first act of The Caucasian Chalk Circle with Ida, who was in town that week. I had to leave the show during the intermission to make it to the German Writer-in-Residence's final reading - the summary of her semester with us in Oberlin. As I hopped on my bike, I suddenly realized that was the last time I'd see any of my actor friends in a show at Oberlin. A cold wind blew. (No one hates weather metaphors more than me, but this actually happened. Life is being novelistic again.) I enjoyed the reading, but couldn't shake the chilly feeling.

In Oberlin it seems like the sun is out more from the middle of April to the end of May than it is for the rest of the school year combined. The afternoons are so warm and glorious, thunder-storming days aside, that even the humidity can't force us inside for too long. We lie out on the grass, sunning, "doing readings," or not even bothering to pretend to work.

And yet for most people, these months are the busiest of the year. Honors and capstone projects are due and need to be presented. Exams and seminar papers loom, items to be checked off a to-do list. Invitations to year-end lunches and parties and open houses pile up. Senior recitals and final performances pack our evenings and weekends full. The other day I got a notification from Facebook that read, "you have 7 events today," and thought 'only 7?'

Since seeing half of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, I've attended four senior recitals (plus two the week before), eight senior symposium presentations, the Big Parade, the Senior Soiree, the German department's last Stammtisch, a senior reading and a concert by a guitar duo called Shredulous 5000. I've performed in three Collegium concerts, one Nothing But Treble concert, attended my last undergrad classes, and turned in my senior capstone. To get all of that done I've had to turn down dozens - literally dozens - of invitations to events that I'm sure were wonderful. I regret missing out on some of them, but overall, I've done what I can and I'm satisfied with that.

I thought I would be sad during these last weeks in Oberlin, but mostly I've felt happy, happier than I've felt all year in fact. Maybe happy isn't the right word, mostly I've just felt content or right, like this is exactly how my last month and a half here should be. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with affection for this place and these people. I'll sit in silence for a few minutes to drink it all in or need to gush to a friend about the lovely light or a particularly beautiful color combination in the landscape, the sort of thing I'd usually just take a picture of and leave unremarked upon.

Sometimes I get upset or wistful, like I did when I felt the literal wind of a spring storm/metaphorical wind of realization. Or when I got misty as someone I met on my first day at Oberlin, an incredibly talented vocal performance major, sang the words "just when the fun is starting / comes the time for parting, / but let's be glad for what we've had / and what's to come," in a song called "Some Other Time." 

Then sometimes I get angry for no rational reason. When one of the people in front of me moved so they were entirely blocking my view of the conductor in our last Collegium concert, I got furious, I'm not proud of it. But then I remembered, right as we started our last piece, that I wasn't really that angry, it's just easier to feel anger about something trivial than it is to feel sadness about something ending. I realized I needed to let myself feel what I was actually feeling, even if just for a few minutes. That's when I cried outright, during a piece called "Faire is the Heaven." I've mostly been able to let my anger pass that way, which is unexpected for me. Letting go of anger isn't usually my strong suit.

But honestly, very little in these past weeks has turned out like I expected it would. Not even this blog post has turned out like I expected! Oh well, I'll write about my capstone some other time.

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