In the late spring of my freshman year, while poring over my Math 114 notes in one of those tiny "study rooms" in the Quad, a senior from my Italian class came parading down the hall. “I’m visiting my old room,” he offered after I gave him one of my signature awkward glances. While I could appreciate the sanctity of his outing, I couldn’t fathom being in the same predicament someday.
Enter April 2013. In an effort to diminish the sobering reality of a final room visit, I’ve dropped by my old room every Fling since 2010. I’ve let my presence be known by either enthusiastically introducing myself to the latest inhabitants or leaving a drunken message on their exterior white board. I was planning to document the final occasion this year and then download one of those apps that let you post four pictures in one on Instagram and then offer some quippy caption about time and growth and nice weather. Thanks to the buzzkill that is the College House administration, however, I will not be allowed entrance into the Quad's interior this year. Allied Barton security will stand guard to my old room, its memories and Instagram likes.
While I could use this breach of freedom as a chance to dwell on the sadness inherent in graduation, I’m viewing it more as a kind of preparation for my departure. For seniors, in just a few weeks, our PennCards will no longer permit us access to the Quad, or the library or Pottruck (for me, read: Energy Zone for smoothies). But we only leave those physical spaces behind when we graduate. It sounds corny, but valuing the relationships I’ve formed in those spaces is my way of coping this month. After living in the uppermost part of the Quad freshman year, I can never look at the word “nipple” the same way. My then–hallmates and now–friends made Fling shirts this year to commemorate our long–standing bonds. I don’t need a visit to my old hall bathroom to remind me of my time in the Quad or the people I was able to meet there.
So when a guard prevents me from entering under my former doorway this weekend, I’ll probably mutter something snarky under my tequila–tinged breath. But sometime later in the nearing future, when I decide to make my final visit to McKean 308 and bother some freshman in a Quad study room on the way with my raucous wandering, I’ll try to remember what I’m taking with me when I leave campus: true friends, indelible memories and a useless PennCard.