As I was sitting on my Amtrak train back down to Charlottesville this weekend, I started thinking about how quickly the fall went by. I spent a great many nights staying up late finishing readings I had procrastinated on, going out to Mellow Mushroom for Pint Night — and having one too many — and then walking dejectedly from Alderman to Clemons at midnight during finals week. After all that, I was glad winter break had come.
I had no plans. I wasn’t going anywhere. I just had time to myself.
Now, don’t feel sorry for me, because I had one of the best breaks that I have had in years. Old friends and family surrounded me; it was heaven. I didn’t need an “Eat, Pray, Love” type of journey traveling halfway around the world to find meaning in my life through food, spirituality and love. I feel that in the 22 years of my life, I have come to know myself very well.
What made my break even more special was the fact that all these people brought back so many memories for me.
Christmas may be designed to remember the birth of Jesus, but my Christmas season was filled with parties overflowing with eggnog, bourbon and mulled wine. The adults drank too much, the kids were merry and carols were sung. We talked about the good ol’ days of high school — idyllic times when we would take turns having parties at our houses while our parents were away. We reminisced about the trips that we went on for our chorale — that’s the private schools’ pretentious version of a chorus — to sing our hearts out for parents who didn’t really want to go to the performance in the first place.
Breaks give you a chance to look back on where you have been and where you are going. Everything was so much more relaxed in high school, and I had so much more time to myself. I wasn’t swamped with meetings, work, volunteering or writing — my typical day-to-day grind as of late. And you know what? I was happier back then.
We just had our first day of school, meaning I and the rest of the class of 2013 have reached a milestone: our final first day of classes. Now, this may be distressing for some, but don’t fret too much. I urge you to use some time this week to think back on our time here at U.Va. The good, the bad, the ups and the downs.
Remember the good times we used to have at football games, even if we weren’t always — or ever — winning. Remember the first time we were all congregated on the Lawn for Convocation and were graced by the presence of John T. Casteen, III and his words of encouragement as we began our time here at the University. Remember those we have lost and keep their memories alive with you every single day.
I know this is super cliché, but honestly, fourth years, don’t let this semester pass you by. If you’re not careful, this semester may go by even faster than last.
If you could make another New Year’s resolution, I would suggest you start seeing those whom you hold dear more and more and reach out to those you have lost touch with. Many of us will be far from each other starting next year. Cherish this time. You won’t have another chance, so live it up!
Al’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.