How to Say Goodbye to St. Lawrence? You Can’t
And I mean you really can’t.
One of the best feelings in the world has to be driving back to Canton, New York, turning onto 23 Romoda Drive after a summer, winter, or spring break away from campus. You know what lies ahead: sports games, sunny days on the quad, Tuesday Blues, Saturday nights out, long nights in the Yellow Pipe Room in ODY, lounging in the Student Center for hours, an unhealthy dose of Bob’s special, or maybe Mikey’s if you roll that way. Regardless of what ensues, the absolute best and most exciting part of SLU, the part that makes everything else so insanely special, is without a doubt, the people. You. Me. Us. Driving back to campus, anticipating the late-nights and slow mornings to come, a smile forms because you know that despite the inevitable ups and downs, you’ll be with your people. Your SLU family. Surrounded by your kin. This is what we look forward to the most and what makes a goodbye of any kind intensely emotional and so bittersweet.
In January, I drove back to St. Lawrence University for my final semester. A semester that, in my mind, would be filled with job searching, late-night drives, a last spring in Canton, all to be followed by a joyous graduation celebration. This would be a semester of fleeting moments and savored memories with friends that had become my closest confidants, fiercest allies, and chosen family. A semester to tie it all up. To express our gratitude, to give back, and to say our goodbyes. A semester that never was.
As the COVID-19 outbreak began to surface in the United States during March, like universities around the country, the SLU student body was sent home. We packed our bags in the early moments of the morning and drove hours back to our hometowns, never considering we wouldn’t be back. We left behind unfinished academics, unfound friendships, and unkempt promises. Personally, I miss my friends. I miss “normal” life. I miss being able to hug my grandparents, neighbors, and even strangers. I miss open beaches, parks, trails, and mountains. I miss hearing the chapel bells ring at 5 p.m. and I miss my people. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Truth be told, however, since the dust has settled and we understand that our return to St. Lawrence is uncertain, I’ve noticed an unwavering gratitude amongst the student body for the opportunity we were given to be Laurentians. Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member, alumni, or community member, you know there is something so uniquely special about St. Lawrence. There is a certain infectious charm, a certain indescribable feeling when walking across the campus, and knowing you belong and that this place is home. Our home.
When I first considered writing about saying goodbye to SLU, it was going to be an ode to my four years at St. Lawrence, and all of the amazing, challenging, and bittersweet moments that came along the way. I planned to write about how hard it is to say goodbye to a place like SLU. Of course, nobody could have anticipated that within a few short months the world would have shifted so immeasurably, but the truth is, my message hasn’t changed. It’s true. You cannot say goodbye to St. Lawrence. From the moment you arrive on campus as a freshman, although you may not be able to see it or feel it right away, you are becoming a part of an extraordinary community. A community of artists, humanitarians, philanthropists, actors, scientists, mathematicians, writers, educators, entrepreneurs, economists and leaders, and perhaps most significantly, a community of kind and big-hearted souls. Even though my time on campus may have been cut to 3.75 years, I feel even more grateful for the time spent, memories created and relationships built and kept in our little corner of the universe in Canton, New York. Next time I drive onto campus, although it won’t be for another semester of school, no doubt I will be filled with all of the same feelings from the countless times I arrived during undergrad, coupled with some new, fond and reflective feelings for a place to which we are all truly indebted.
So here is an ode to the scarlet and the brown - No matter how much time has passed, we will never say goodbye.