I love the springtime in Oberlin. The sun gradually becomes a frequent visitor, and the sweet magnolias begin to peek out and fill the air with their delicious scents. Since the beginning of spring term this February, I have been eyeing the tiny little magnolia buds as I walk from one end to the other end of campus. Every week, the tiny buds become a little more plumper. Each passing day reminds me that spring is on the way… The atmosphere of the campus changes as the naked trees in Tappan begin sprouting leaves once again. One by one, Obies' heads start to pop out of their burrows. The empty Wilder Bowl is decorated with flying discs and sun-kissed Obies. Just when we let out a sigh of relief… 'ah! Spring is here!' there comes the April snow/rain washing away all the sweet-smelling magnolias. Once again, reminding me to live in the moment and enjoy each day because there might not be another.
One by one, I mourn the loss of every soft pink petal that slowly turns brown under the footsteps of students walking by the science center. Just a day ago, I was sniffing their sweet scent, and now all I am left with is their memory…until spring next time.
During freshman year, in springtime, I was blissful and carefree, walking into my second semester of college feeling confident as if I were on my sixth. Little did I know then I would only have four months of 'real' college experience. Just as the sweet-smelling magnolias were ripening in their loving buds, the pandemic changed the course of most of our college careers. I went away from college for a few months during the pandemic lockdown. I returned in May to the summer heat. Oops!! Where did spring go? Ahh! The collective yearning class of 2023 had that year for a typical spring term… impalpable.
Sophomore year spring was my first ever real spring on-campus. With the cloud of the pandemic looming over all of our heads, our faces were covered with masks, yet spring shamelessly found a way once again, peaking in white, pink, yellow, and purple. That spring, I was in a daze swinging from acceptance to denial of this new-normal college experience. Diving into academics was the only way for me to gain some sanity. I over-booked myself, front-loading everything, fearing that I'd once again be robbed of my spring term experience like last year. Wilder Hall became home when the libraries were still closed. I'd work all the time in Wilder just to catch a glimpse of humanity, even if it were for a few moments as people passed by.
Junior year, I walked into spring quite tired after a grueling fall semester. It felt like I walked into the spring term without any rest. I loaded my calendar up like I usually do with all my challenging classes and jobs. Little did I smell the burn-out broth that was brewing. Just as spring made its way through, I was too busy getting things done, adding more and more to my plate with little compassion for myself. I was too occupied to notice the little wonders of mother nature. I was constantly focused on where I was heading next and finding ways to be more productive in the little time I had left, no more to sniff the sweet-smelling magnolias (whomp, whomp) and act from a place of intention.
Nevertheless, life had a different plan in store for me which included crumbling down a hyperproductive tower. Mid-April, what I call my 'feminine-awakening' was knocking on my door. This was my call to slow down, plant my feet in the ground, and, most importantly, sniff the flowers. My favorite flowers this season were viburnum right outside Pyle Co-op/Asia House, and their delightful scents would fill my senses, stopping me dead in my tracks. Slowly I started to say more yes to being and no to doing. It's fair to say junior spring was the beginning of a more self-compassionate version of myself.
Currently, I am once again at the cusp of spring—my last spring on campus. With awe and wonderment in my eyes, I look at everything as if it were my first. Two days ago, I saw the green buds slowly changing color and opening up… a surrender to the beginning of spring!!! I had tears in my eyes. Once again humbled and grateful. Spring always finds a way!
Thanks for reading my nostalgic walk down memory lane! How is this spring treating you?