In high school, around this time - right before graduation - I was all about endings. Milestones. Measuring each little thing I would never do again, that would never be quite exactly the same. From the important - senior showcase, say, or the musical - to the utterly trivial - last drive out of the parking lot as a student, I was acutely aware of all these endings.
I find myself approaching graduation again, suddenly and without warning. Yet this time, I find this series of little endings passing me by, wholly unnoticed until after the fact. I've noticed in the past few months that, with a lot of major things, I experience a sort of delayed emotional processing. I've always been someone about whom it could accurately be said needs to let her heart catch up with her head; most things resonate with me intellectually long beforethey do emotionally.
The disconnect is much more pronounced with the "bad" than the "good", a sort of protective impulse I have to try and understand something in my mind to mitigate it before I feel it in my soul. Obviously, there's no protective factor with good things so I feel happiness immediately, spasmodically, limitlessly. It's just those feelings I have a little less control over that grow exponentially the less and less I am able to keep a tight, intelligently packaged lid on them.
I have certainly been understanding a lot of the implications of graduating lately without feeling them; I've been excited and scared and happy and proud and nervous, but I have not yet myself feel the natural melancholy that comes with ending something. I'd say it's because I simply haven't had time to admit to any of these feelings, but in the end I suspect it's because I don't actually know how, in this case. In high school it was easy to mark the ending - moving away from home, departing from the school I'd spent the last decade of my life at and the people I'd grown up with. But now... my friends will be here, I'll still live in New York, my life will still continue very much as it does today. With one pretty major exception.
Tonight, as I raced out of Kimmel from Cleftos to go back to rehearsal for 5 Women, I was struck several blocks from the building that I'd just left my last ever rehearsal for Cleftos. And I don't think I had considered, REALLY considered, until that moment exactly how much the group meant - and means, and HAS meant - to me.
Cleftos was the thing I found freshman year that made me feel less lost, gave me something to do and somewhere to be and something to be passionate about when I was, well, adrift in a sea of homesickness and the backlash of feeling that I should've been happier at my "perfect" school. I have since, of course, overcome that feeling, but my gratitude for finding Cleftos and my love for the group - for giving me a constant, for belonging, for friendship, for making me work hard and laugh harder every week, three times a week - is something I've never lost. It's easy when I'm stressed and trying to have a job and do shows to wonder why I would continue to kill myself trying to not let this group down, but like clockwork, Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday night at 7 pm hits and I remember without question or complaint. To know that my time with this group is now drawing rapidly to a close is something I still don't quite understand, but have a nagging feeling it'll dawn on me with a display of highly sentimental public waterworks sometime this Saturday evening.
There will be other endings - last classes with my favorite teachers, last exits from Strasberg where I have left and gained so much of myself in the last three years, last shows, last journeys to campus, last flashes of my NYU card to get into buildings. Because I may not be leaving New York, and I may not be leaving my friends, but the inevitable is that there is most assuredly an ending coming my way.
I know that I'm still "understanding" this loss rather than feeling it. But I feel the pangs of melancholy, of nostalgia, of impending change beginning to resonate in that nebulous region of the emotional processing centers that sneak up on you before you're aware you're feeling anything at all. And while that's scary and weird, in an equally weird way I'm sort of okay with it.
In high school I tried to follow the words of Dr. Seuss - "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." I mostly succeeded, give or take a few months around September of 2007. Finishing this absolutely breakneck sprint to the finish line of college, I don't think that's it. I think it's "cry because it happened. smile because it happened. laugh because it happened. scream because it happened. dance because it happened. sing because it happened. feel because it happened."
So this one's for the Cleftos. Here's to the first last, with all my love.