Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Princeton = over? Error: Does not compute.

So after experiencing the biggest party in this hemisphere (judging by amount of Bud Light purchased) for three days at Princeton Reunions--the events of which included a more intimate reunion of my own with [name-redacted], hayyyyyy, a ridiculous amount of free alcohol, a surprisingly large amount of time spent with non-Quad friends, and the P-Rade which will actually go down as one of my favorite things about Princeton*, Princeton kept the party going for seniors with three full days of events celebrating us and our collective accomplishments. 

On Sunday, there was the baccalaureate ceremony with speaker Michael Lewis who told us to recognize when we're claiming domain over all the extra cookies and learn to share (#everythingIneedtoknowinlifeIlearnedinkindergarten). There was Pan-African graduation, a beautiful ceremony to which my family rolled 14 deep, making me feel surrounded and overwhelmed by love (but which also served as a moment of me feeling "not Black enough" because I'd actually never heard "Lift Every Voice and Sing" sung in full before, let alone know the words). There was the Step Sing, a tradition in which the entire class gathers in the biggest archway on campus to sing together, and during which we sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan as a tribute to our being 90s babies and "Closing Time" by Semisonic so that we could remember that "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end".

On Monday, Steve Carrell spoke at Class Day and prompted our University president to make at TWSS joke. We granted honorary class membership to my favorite dining services employee who works in the dining hall I called home freshman and sophomore year, which made me really happy. Unfortunately my family wasn't able to be there for Class Day because my mom's nurse needed to come change the dressing on this tube thing she's got going on for blood drawing and medicine giving, but they made it up to Princeton for the African-American Studies and Sociology receptions. AAS spoiled us with pins, really nice messenger bags with the logo and tons of pockets, and a soft warm-looking sweatshirt with the logo on the front and a quote by Brother West (who couldn't bear the thought of Princeton without The Great Class of 2012, evidently) on the back. I learned that I didn't graduate with honors at the SOC reception, but I gave surprisingly few fucks. Monday evening, FO, TN, SH, and my little sister trekked to campus to accompany me at senior prom. Look how pretty we are:

And then Tuesday was our actual commencement ceremony, which having both sides of my family together for made as drama-packed as possible. The ceremony was quite nice, and Aretha Franklin was there! They gave her an honorary doctorate in Music. Surprise! We walked out of the Fitz-Randolph gates (not even close to my first time after accidentally breaking the superstition last year...not graduate in four years, my black ass...anyway) and to our departmental receptions to pick up our diplomas and have the University buy us alcohol for the 5th time in 6 days. And then it was like, well, party's over! Time to pack. You need to be out of here by noon tomorrow. You ain't gotta go home, but you gotta get the hell out of here... Tuesday night consisted of packing, a very extended dinner with some pre-Quad friends at PJ's Pancake House, being filled in on the details of CC's life, some tearful goodbyes, and more packing. We shifted from celebrating to wiping away the tears so quickly. 

And now I'm home. I've been home for 4 days, minus a second trip to DC to find a place to live yesterday. I've been home and wrestling with the idea that Princeton is over. This thing by which I define myself but don't want to be solely defined by, has come to an end. 

...And then I was catching up on the blogs I follow and came upon a post of RG's about how "Princeton" his life still is a year after graduation and, while I totally understand him saying he needs a break from that, it made me let out this huge sigh of relief. Who was I to think that Princeton was over just because I up and graduated? That the "Orange Bubble" extends only as far as the Fitz-Randolph gates? I'm moving to city with the second largest concentration of Princeton alumni in the world (the first being NYC). I have no doubt that I'm going to get involved with the Princeton Club of Washington on some level--remember, I don't know how to be in a club without helping to run it, lol. I know a few recent alums who live/work in DC (BK, RG, AM, YN, JG), and know that there are more I'm not friends with yet but could be! And I also know that now that we're on that #grownperson #salaried status, distance doesn't have to mean the dwindling of friendships. EY will see me in Denver before the year is out. KS and JB will get sick of me taking weekend trips to NYC. 

To make a long story short, it's absurd of me to think that something as huge as Princeton could "end" just like that. No one in the world keeps their college experience going the way we do (#highestratesofalumniparticipationontheplanet). It's only over if I want it to be over. And come on now...me? Want it to be over? #onceaTigeralwaysaTiger #PrincetonBlood #2012forLife                                                  

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