My grandparents will arrive for graduation in 36 days. My father will arrive in 37, and my mother’s plans are still up in the air. Graduation for the College is in 38 days, and Lin–Manuel Miranda will grace Commencement with his presence in 39. One month, one week and one day until I leave my undergraduate career firmly in the past. Ideally, I’d like to echo the general senior sentiment of bittersweet, premature nostalgia for days gone by, but the truth is, I think I’m about ready to be an adult now.
I first realized I was ready to graduate when I was home over spring break, and did something both incredibly nerdy and bougie: I spent three nights looking up high rewards credit cards. My father is an accountant and I was born on April 15th, which the Adult World knows as "Tax Day," so I always cared about personal finance more than I should. But while my friends were getting drunk off their asses in PV and PC and other initialed places, I was on the American Express website weighing the costs and benefits of different membership levels. I still haven’t decided, but I really want to start collecting miles.
It’s not just that I’m ready to be a real adult, with my own salary and lifestyle independent of my parents—I think it’s time for me to not be a student for a while. Two weeks ago, the Parliamentary Debate Team hosted a tournament on Penn’s campus. I love being a part of this team, but something was off this time. I really wanted to leave early. The tournament party the night before was not as fun as it normally is (which I realize is not saying a lot, but bear with me). Doing the behind–the–scenes work of the tournament, normally a thrill (keep bearing with me), was now mundane and tiring. It was an achingly beautiful day outside and what I really wanted to do was toss a Frisbee with my housemates. I took this as a sign that it’s probably time to move on—since that activity is so tied up in my educational experience, I feel ready to leave school in the past, at least for now.
I used to be stuck in a very “college” routine: gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, pong on Thursdays, friends on Fridays and Saturdays, meetings on Sundays and Mondays, work whenever I can fit it in, lather, rinse, repeat. Sure, Penn is a fantastic place that offers an abundance of new opportunities wherever you care to look for it. But eventually, we all fall into the same general routine, and four years of that is an incredibly long time when we’re all still so young.
I’ve definitely been getting a bit more adventurous lately, but I don’t know how long that can last. In the last few months, I’ve been to London and Palm Beach and multiple downtown hipster dance parties, bar crawled and bottomless brunched more times than I care to, or can remember. I am the Mayor of Smokes’ on Swarm (which used to be Foursquare), and I (almost) never miss a Sink or Swim. Blarney Quizzo is my second home. I’m 100% sure my neighbors called the cops on my house a couple of weeks ago for a party (though they had the courtesy to make sure I wasn’t there first). I was at Smokes’ with a friend who said that if he could take a fifth year, he would. If I took a fifth year, I would literally die.
But it has been fun, and I feel much more satisfied with this experience than I did with my time in high school. I grew up in the uncomfortably–named Plantation, Florida, a very boring suburb from which I longed to escape. At prom, my friend was phenomenally drunk, and I drove her to our hotel with the car’s top down, praying that if she needed to puke, she would have the courtesy to do it outside of the car. She did not. I was done. I needed to get the fuck out.
This time, I don’t want to leave campus and never look back. I want to move forward to a better situation, not leave behind a shitty one. I have a lot of great memories of this place and I look forward to making more over my last 5.29 weeks. A couple of Tuesdays ago, Kweder had a special show with a full band. The crowd was a wonderful mix of Kweder diehards from Penn and Philly as a whole. Joe the bartender, my friends and I were all singing along to his original songs. I know Kweder (I interviewed him for this magazine), so after four hours of music, he wrote me a poem:
You are a friend—
A great friend,
Who helped me
Re–believe in myself,
And I will
Thank You, Brandon.”
That moment was incredible, the perfect encapsulation of my Penn experience. But I had just spent $40 and five hours in Smokes’, and ended up late to work the next morning. Penn is great. I think it’s time to leave.