This is my last column for the Stater. And I think I’m only realizing now how much that hurts. This space has been, for me, a kind of sacred space — a clearing in the woods, lush with flowers. A quiet corner of a well-liked room. It has felt like sharing space on the floor next to your best friend in the midst of some ill-advised sleepover, whispering things back and forth.
And it’s all because of you — and of Kent State. Thanks for being with me all this time, and for listening to me. We’ve been through some strange things, haven’t we? To New York City and back, on the trains of Portland, picking up old rabbit fur hats. And all the while, I never once doubted you. (Though I’m not sure you can say the same of me!)
I’ve done a lot of learning. A lot of growing. When I first started writing for The Stater, as a freshman, I was a general assignment reporter. I can still remember my first story, covering an event, and the feeling of relief when I built up enough courage to ask my first question. Now I sit here, staring straight ahead, into the blinding light of entering an MFA program. Could I have seen myself here as a freshman? No. If I am being honest with you, (and I have been so far) I was never quite sure where I’d be going after my adventure at Kent State ended. But I did know one thing: I would be writing. And I’m so happy that I’m going to focus on my poetry.
It doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Nothing does. Even when people try to distract you with some cheesy phrase meant to soften the blow of parting, all, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened! Well, that usually just makes me cry harder. (Maybe that’s also because I’m also listening to "Landslide.")
No amount of shiny promise in the future can dim my memories. So many of them are people I’ve grown close to, places I’ve become familiar with. I know the best trees to rest against, the best patches of daffodils on the side of Blanket Hill. When it rains, I know how to move my umbrella with the wind so it doesn’t break. I think of myself in Columbus, in my own place, trying to figure out how the air works, how the rain falls, how the people walk. It seems so far away. In Kent, I figured out who I was. Who I am, now. I let myself finally realize that I wanted to be something I had been afraid of before: an artist. I helmed Luna Negra, and it took form under my team’s eyes. I’ve hugged people who have made lasting impacts on my life, and I have cried in more bathrooms than just those in Franklin Hall.
I was talking to a friend recently about poetry, as I am apt to do. “I’ve been fascinated about impressions lately,” I think I said, and it’s true. For a while now, I’ve been mulling over the idea of the shadow of yourself in places you’ve been before. When you sit on a bench you’ve sat on before, is some part of you sitting on the memory of yourself? Maybe that sounds too out there.
I guess what I mean to say is I’ll miss you. I guess what I mean to say is, if I ever come back to Kent —when, not if — when I come back to Kent, and I walk up the side of the hill, and I walk on the old impressions of my own footprints, it will feel familiar. Because so much of me is here now. My tears in the grass, my handprints on the rocks, my laughter in the tree branches. Because of all that, it will feel familiar, like riding a bike, like a shiver of deja vu, like eating something you’ve been craving for a long time. Maybe — just maybe — like I never even left.
Cameron Gorman is an illustrator and a columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.