Starbucks has stayed still empty these past few short summer weeks. There was green-aproned barista buzz about regulars returning, familiar faces, and that we will complain just as much to be back as we did when everyone was gone. I tiptoed the edge lines of campus, thinking if I stayed outside the physical academic perimeter for just a while more, my summer would last longer.
August’s end is here and without the first day’s passing I have already decided which of my classes I like and which I don’t. One decision down. On the other hand, there is the notebook quest that plagues me as it has for as many Falls past as I can remember. Spiral-bound or composition, five-subject or one, binders or folders? How many different colored pens can I possibly carry around in one textbook-toting backpack? The tough questions.
We are counting down the days at this communal coffee shop table, still spread out with stuff on seats and table spots, each of which will be occupied in 10 days or fewer. The bookstore buzz is almost audible. Is it textbook time? I have spared myself counting the hours and minutes, maybe because I hear that most of us kind of sort of want to come back. Are we counting down with dread or joy? A little of column A, a little of column B? Someone throws another book across the table. We take up space.
Across the room, I see the familiar embrace of returning after summer’s trips and trials, and sisters reunited, and bro bumps and lots of Emory love. I find freshmen tweeting “welcome home” and “here we are,” treatments of our quad on Instagram, and I think we are all a little proud of returning to something we know to be beautiful; somewhere full of people who look to be the best they can. People fresh among us post “How’s the WoodPEC?” and “What is Dobbs like?“ on Facebook pages where they know no one. Yet. We were there, and we know that they have no clue what they’ve gotten themselves into, but we saw them at Songfest last night and none of it mattered because cheering for our freshman dorms we cheered for the memories we made and the year that starts this week.
It’s almost senior time for me, and is it too early to be ready to go? We worry for what will come next, where to go, what to do. How to pay. We waste time worrying, we miss the Cox clock ringing too loud too long to usher us to classes that we’ve thought about skipping. It is my wish that we do not get lost in worry. It is my dream that we soak up what we have together here, and be our best while we do our best. We are good at that, I think. Yes, it is too early, and instead I hope this year we soak up Emory, all of us, new and incoming and almost outgoing. Welcome back, I say. Welcome back and welcome home.