Well, well. I concede there might never come a time to sing Hail To The Victors, fence for the school, or write for their paper again. On Saturday, April 26, my status with the University of Michigan officially switched from undergrad to alumnus, and with that I relinquish some rights and privileges. But a wolverine will never, ever, forget how to kick ass.
My parents arrived halfway across the world on the night before my final exam — to conclude all exams — of three years in Michigan. Once pen hit table, a rather subtle epiphany struck me, that a part of my life was done and complete, without any particular pain or gladness. Perhaps I felt my soul weigh two ounces less, but who can tell anyway. It was simply, a slightly louder tick of the clock.
15 minutes later and it was a bittersweet goodbye lunch for me at East Quad‘s dining hall. By grace, this special farewell ‘luncheon’ was an opportunity to show my parents what my dietary routine was like during the first two years. Later, we sped toward Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor (maybe a separate post on that). Nobody wants their once-in-a-lifetime event ruined, so everything was arranged months in advance, from car rentals to the day-by-day accommodations.
We arrived back in Ann Arbor the night before Commencement, according to plan of course. First ever ceremony held in the University’s Diag. No question there were cramp feet and many blocked views, but I’ll take a free pass into the history books anytime. Much less should be said about Bob Woodruff‘s speech as guest-speaker, what with last year’s Bill Clinton a tough act to follow, but overall it was a hassle-free procession. We Singaporeans congregated, as can be expected, but since I’d been recently deprived of their company, no day like today to deliver some last and best wishes before we part on our ways.
People expect everyone to be happy during graduation, like how no one is expected to work on a public holiday. Mine was as sweet as all the cinnamon in the world, let it first be said. But the morning started out a grouchy grandpa who’d kick and spit to stay in bed. For those who know me a little better, the weatherman controls my mood dials during these special occasions, so every little detail I had planned — and every temper time-bomb — was under jeopardy. Thank God for bringing out the sun toward the end of the ceremony, otherwise it would be a serious emotional disaster.
What else is there to do on graduation day than to take photos! There was cause for celebration, and loved ones were around to pose. To be fair, I didn’t spend the whole afternoon snapping away, and we stuck strictly to central campus, but we certainly indulged quite a fair bit. If only college graduation came more than once (and it just might)!
Will I miss Michigan? You betcha. Be assured I’ll come back to visit. And when I do, naturally memories will start flooding back. Reenactments of missed opportunities and reruns of blissful times can fill up hours upon hours of a digital memory book. I’ve tried to weigh the scales, be the judge, and arrive at a verdict — did I win or lose?
Straight up, I can confidently say I won. Not because I was a poster boy for success (I’ve got a nice long list of B’s and what-if’s), but because I choose to see the good in me, the blessings that life has given to me. Maybe some regrets will never fade away even under the healing powers of time, but the future after Michigan looks bright, perhaps even more blinding that I could have ever dreamed.
The only doom and gloom surrounding change are the ones you’re leaving behind. Or at least, moving away from. I’ll get to see some friends in Columbia, but for everyone else, the prospect of being able to meet them here and there every few years is a rather painful one to harbor. My point, and of life’s, is that people go on their ways, to pursue the life they want. We do what we have to do. It’s certainly been my pleasure to have met you and known you well enough to call you friend, but we all know life isn’t as lenient, hardly as forgiving. “We’ll meet again sometime in the future,” is the best any of us can say.
Although I’m no longer an official student, my heart will forever be rooted here and remember fondly the times I’ve had. There’s still plenty to explore here; sights and sounds that elude the sometimes placid air of student life. Which is why I’m spending the spring here in Ann Arbor, to be among friends and family, and to hope for one last blessed Michigan experience.
A few more photos: