Saturday, May 29--
Commencement week: best week ever? Best week ever! Best weak Everett! Commencement week has none of what our parents or our loans are actually paying for, namely classes. As a matter of fact, lots of us are getting paid to stay here and work to make commencement week happen. I'm getting paid twice right now to sit here in Tappan Square on the most beautiful May evening I can remember and write while standing guard over 2,000 shifty chairs that will hold the class of 2010 come Monday morning. A little breeze, a lot of shade, a lot of alumni walking around, and for the first time this week, not too many mosquitoes.
Looking back on my days at Oberlin, I will certainly recall vague periods of gray, cold, sloppy winter, but the real visceral memories I have will surely be ones of gentle warm breezes, running with skinny distance runners shirtless for the first time of the year. Evenings are somehow very conducive to memory-making, maybe just because they last longer and are just so easy to enjoy at this time of year. I must say that if Obies (or humans generally) have a mating season, spring in Oberlin has to be it. Not that I've experienced anything like that firsthand, because I'm saving myself for my 22nd Arbor Day. I'm not being weird, alls I'm sayin' is I know some trees that better watch the F out for me next April. My penchant for "knot-holing" aside...
Commencement week is a time for tides. Everyone is pretty much leaving, either for the summer to return in the fall or graduating and moving out into greater adult life. A few people are coming back. This means there is a strange rising and falling feeling in your gut when you look at senior Cross Country captain Sam "The Griddle Man" Ghitelman and realize that pretty soon he won't be around much, then Everett Schlawin, who graduated last year, walks in the door and gets hugs galore.
Commencement is a time for porches. Honesty too. I sat down, a little drunker than I normally am, next to my friend Sam "G-Hit" Ghitelman in an armchair last night and told him, "Sam, I hope you don't have any regrets." It was articulate and sentimental, but I'm still not exactly sure what I meant by it.
"You know, I really don't," he replied.
"Good, it's better to just forget about all the stuff in the past--"
"It's not even that. It's like this: No matter where I am or what I do, I'm pretty much the same person. I think the decisions that I have made, the big ones, have determined where I am and who I'm around, but not really who I am. I'm happy with where I am and who I'm with, so I have no regrets."
Sam's an articulate inebriate. I am not. I make a lot of fart jokes. Like a lot of them.
While we are not spending this week in Oberlin taking classes we pay (dearly) for, I have learned one thing I find very important.
This week, no matter how it manifests itself, is worth missing sleep. Many people who don't frequent parties during the year (me) have been found in the houses, backyards, and basements where the hep cats come to dance their blues away. This is not just from a sense of 'running out of time.' I've realized that this is a really unique opportunity to spend hours and hours with people that you don't normally have.
There is no 'I need to get to sleep to be able to pay attention in class Monday or to wake up in the morning to practice.' Obligations are minimal for most, even if real work obligations, like the stalwart guard of more than 10,000 rowdy chairs, exist. As we speak, I am in the middle of an 8-hour shift, the third of its kind this week, but I know that at midnight, when I get off, I'll be able to go to someone's house and see more than a dozen people that I love dancing and talking and playing together for the last time. It will happen again tomorrow.
Commencement week can be a week for 'I love you.' It really goes right along with being honest, but it also stems from the fact that just by sitting and watching someone having a good time, you can realize how much you love them. Since commencement is the time for honesty, you feel the need to say, completely truthfully, "Marvin Krislov, I love you!!"