So I had to take a second look at my calendar to make sure of this, but I think it’s really true–this is my last individual blog post in the 2016-2017 Ruka year. Now, this is assuming that we don’t do some sort of culminating blog endeavor, like the 5 Days of Ruka posts we did when everyone was gone for Winter Break, but for the purposes of this entry I’mma go ahead and gear up for the end. Because it is the end. I’ll soon walk across that stage wearing a dumb hat and be a college graduate. It’s over, or almost. I can repeat that as much as I want, though, and it still won’t feel like reality. I can keep telling myself over and over again that this is the conclusion of my college career, but all I can think about is that case study I have due next week, my exams, and how to responsibly spend the rest of the Ruka stipend. It’s the curse of the college student that we never quite get to wind down and reflect until we wake up and see our graduation robes hanging at the ready on May 13th. That down-time may come after exams during Senior Week, but with a couple more Ruka obligations and cleaning out the house, I have an idea that that won’t be much of a break either. Regardless, I won’t be writing a blog post that week, so I’ll do the best I can here and now to communicate a situation that I myself cannot understand.
I’ll try to do this quantitatively, then, because my sentiments can’t argue with the facts, and it seems my brain just isn’t quite ready to any qualitative thinking. Classic treasurer. So, a few weeks ago we held the fifth and last of our dinners for Rhodes faculty/staff and Memphis community leaders. We had Eric Gottlieb and Rebecca Terrell at our table, a power couple for the ages, and our other dinner guests have included one President of Rhodes College, four Deans, at least six professors, and at least three community leaders. Last month we hosted the fifth and last of our Ruka parties, an early-2000s themed bash complete with pop rocks, baby bottle pops, and 6 different flavors of Pringles. This Sunday will be our sixth and last group meeting with Professor McNary-Zak in the Ruka house, and we’ll come having each prepared individual reflections on our year together. There will be tears, and I unfortunately cannot give an exact number of those. Probably at least a pint or so if we’re going for volume measurements. There’ll be 3 more trips to the farmers market out of about 35 total, and one more group meeting out of about 30. We’ve spent 86% of our budget, and we’ll take care of that last 14% as we work during Senior Week to thank those who have made this year in the fellowship wonderful. There are 23 days left in the house until we stop being Rhodes students on May 13th, and 41 more days until our lease runs out on May 31st. That’s out of about 250 days total living together since my plane touched down in Memphis, give or take a few days of absence over various academic breaks.
Also, when I scrolled back through my calendar to count some of these events, I saw “Mom’s MRI” and “Mom’s surgery (outpatient)” back in September when my mother fought cancer, and I had a house of 5 to check in on me. I saw October, a time which McKenzie thought would be “the month to be alive,” but turned out to actually break each of our spirits, one by one. Thankfully, though, we had each other to try to patch it all up. I saw “Election Day,” when we needed each other, plus food and coloring books, for emotional support. I saw “Ruka room shuffle,” when we spent an evening roasting sweet potatoes, blasting rap music, and carrying each other’s bed frames up and down a tight flight of stairs. I saw the week when my regular “work” time slots stopped–I got laid off and the girls showered me with condolences and offers to get up together at 5 AM to make croissant dough since I was no longer getting paid to do so. I can’t quite quantify moments like these, but I can describe them, and hope that the slight pangs of emotion I feel in writing will later culminate in an ability to face and acknowledge this particular ending. It could come after we take a last group picture together in our caps and gowns, or it may be this Sunday, when we try to wrap it all up at home with Professor McNary-Zak. Either way, it’s coming for me, and when it hits me like a freight train, I won’t be able to reduce the year to numbers and dates. I’ll just have to face it, without the structure and denial I hide behind. For now, though, I’ll keep counting, finish up that last case study, take those finals, and turn in more receipts. The end is coming, but it’s not here yet, and when it arrives I’ll let the emotion take me where it will. That is, straight to the nearest tissue box.