Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nothing Was The Same

All That Remains
So…this is it.  After three and a half long weeks, the show is finally over.  This is the end.  Sometime last week, I began to think of reasons as to why I wanted to be back home.  The biggest reason was my personal life.  Last week, I was looking forward to coming back to the Bay Area.  I missed it dearly.  I missed my friends, my family, my home, everything.  Late one night last week, I got a call from one of my good friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in a while.  She asked me if I wanted to hang out and I had to tell her I was still in Ithaca, New York for my summer program at Cornell University.  Having to say that was a little disheartening because it made me homesick; I couldn’t wait to get back home.  Secondly, the Debate and Rhetoric class was starting to take its toll on me.  As stated in yesterday’s blog, I unfortunately picked up a minor sickness, which I believe was due to a combination of the intense workload, long studying hours, and, of course, playing frisbee in the rain (personally, I wanted to believe the former).  The stress of having to work on such demanding assignments so early into the summer time made it feel as though the week and a half prior to this program was more like a Winter Break than that of a Summer Vacation.  Personally, both of these reasons were reason enough to want to have to go back Bay Area.  

When I woke up this morning, I felt drastically different.  When I rose out of my bed, the only items that remained in my room was my luggage and my backpack.  Other than that, the room was empty.  After brushing my teeth, I walked into the room and stopped in my tracks.  I examined the dorm and its emptiness.  What used to be filled with papers, dirty laundry, and unmade beds was now completely barren.  I took my time here for granted and now it was gone with the wind.  All I could do was make the most out of the little time I had left and take it all in one last time.  At around 10, my room was inspected, which took about ten minutes.  Once everything was set, I grabbed my luggage, walked out of the room, and took one last look at my dorm.  I didn’t just close the door of a room that I considered my home for the past three weeks; By closing that door, I ended a saga that was of the best experiences of my life.  

While walking to graduation, a million things were going through my head.  I started to remember all the people that I had met during the trip and all of the people I never got a chance to say goodbye to.  Sure, I had their cell phone numbers or the accounts of their social media, but not being able to say goodbye crushed me a bit.  I had formed friendships with great people and I wanted to be able to cap off the trip in the right way.  I got to say goodbye to a few people, but unfortunately, I never got a shot to say goodbye to everyone that made this trip memorable.

The graduation, again, was a bittersweet experience.  On one hand, it was great to be acknowledged for all of the hard work I put into the class and receive a certificate for my efforts.  On the other hand, that might have been the last time I attended Cornell University and it was sad to leave such a fantastic institution.  As I was handed my diploma and I walked across the stage, I had so many different emotions going on inside my head that all I could do was throw on a grin and walk graciously off the stage.  I couldn’t stay for the whole graduation ceremony because we were on a schedule with a shuttle bus, but it was a privilege to see what I could.  After the ceremony I headed to the Statler Hotel, where I met up with my cohort.  We grabbed a bite to eat at Collegetown Bagels, then headed back to the Statler to wait until the shuttle bus arrived.  While waiting, we encountered a couple students from the school and we were able to say our goodbyes.  

We got picked up at the hotel around two, which began the monotonous cycle of travel.  The shuttle ride to Syracuse itself was about an hour and a half.  Once we got to the airport, we went through protocol and grabbed a bite to eat a Johnny Rockets.  The food left much to be desired, but you can’t really expect much from an airport.  Around six, we boarded our plane on a two-hour flight to Chicago.  The plane was delayed by thirty minutes prior to takeoff, which was terrible because we only had a 45-minute layover from the Syracuse flight to the Chicago flight.  Once we landed in Chicago, me and Stephen sprinted to the gate in order to ensure that our ride didn’t leave us behind.  It was about a mile long to get from point A to point B, so needless to say, it wasn’t fun.  When we eventually did arrive, we were told that we still had about fifteen minutes to board.  This flight, like the Syracuse flight, was boring and uneventful.  I couldn’t fall asleep to save my life so I cycled through playing with my phone, reading, and listening to music, which is a lot duller than it seems on a plane.  After five hours in the air, we finally touched down in San Francisco.  Back in the Bay.  Excited couldn’t describe how I felt to be back home.  There’s just something magical about this place that I missed out in the East.

After picking up our luggage from baggage claim, we waited outside for our shuttle.  A stream of shuttles passed us by and yet no shuttle stopped for us.  A limo pulled up to the curb and I jokingly said to Mr. Chan-Law, “Our ride is here.”  He said “Yeah, right,” and we continued to wait for our shuttle.  In reality, the limo was our shuttle!  Apparently there was no actual shuttle to pick us up so we all got to ride back to El Cerrito High in style!  We crammed our luggage into the car, threw on music, and got to enjoying the place that raised us.  When we arrived at El Cerrito High, the place where it all started, I rolled down the window and casually stared down Don as if the limo itself wasn’t enough to announce our arrival.  We unpacked, said our goodbyes, then when our separate ways.  The trip was over.  But we still have a month and a half of summer and memories will last forever.  
One Last Squad Picture

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