The last few days have been a blur of giddy, indescribable, bittersweet celebration. We graduated!!! Driving into Bristol with my parents (in tears – I was nervous!) four years ago seems both another time, another place – and to have passed in a click of the fingers. Both an eternity and no time at all.
The day passed in a hazy, dazzling and wonderful fog of thirty-degree heat – the startling light and the steaminess of the air bathing the day in nostalgia even as it was happening. In my mind the day is made up of jewel-like moments, strung together on the necklace of time. Moments which I hope to always remember.
The moment I woke up and didn’t remember it was graduation day. Getting up and realising, all at once, that – oh! I need to be in the car already! Where are my shoes? And is this really happening? The early morning drive to Bristol chatting with my mother. And the scramble to change into my monochrome dress (as rules stipulate) in a petrol station bathroom on the side of the motorway. Pulling up onto Woodland Road and darting out of the car to join the lengthening ticket queue. The rising anticipation as I waited in line and caught sight of the faces of so many cherished friends. Jack was the first classmate I saw in his gown, as he strolled over with his boyfriend, and I could hardly contain my excitement. I think I even jumped!
And more moments. Walking up the stairs with my newly fitted gown to find Will waiting by the staircase. The buzz of the crowd growing outside the Wills’ building. The call for all graduates to take their seats. Waiting in the corridor to be presented. The sweltering heat and the endless photographs, the German department photograph – with voices shouting and the teachers laughing, and the arms of friends draped over each other. The sunset walk across the Downs, which felt like the end of an era. Despite the dreamlike feeling which bracketed the day’s event (‘four years and this is it?’), the whole affair felt so historic – as if imprinting itself on my memory even as it was playing out before me.
Postscript: Thank you so much to my amazing parents for encouraging me throughout my education, and always supporting me, and for listening to the occasional late-night telephone call of essay desperation. I’m so grateful to have met so many interesting, lovely people during my degree and can’t thank the German department enough for being so friendly and fun!