Could you explain to me how I became a college senior? I understand that classes were involved and the passage of time and a whole bunch of homework, but what happened? And now it’s my last year and in eight short months, I will be released into the world to unleash my liberal arts education on unsuspecting institutions. At Commencement when I walk across that stage, only one thought will go through my head. Well, two, actually. The first will be, “God, I hope there aren’t any huge boogers hanging out of my nose.” The second, however, will most definitely be, “Please don’t make me leave this place!”
Because, Grinnell, despite homework, I love you.
Who knows, maybe that love’s even with the homework. Maybe.
You’ve changed me, did you know? Changed me in ways I never thought I’d be changed. You got me to dance; you got me to reflect upon my beliefs, find context for the parts I wanted to keep, and a replacement for the parts I needed to replace; you got me to eat Indian food and to use semicolons.
I almost don’t recognize myself from the Molly who entered Grinnell three years ago. I like the new Molly. She’s cool, mature (on occasion), and refuses to be confined. She still loves children’s books, though, and dresses like a pirate or a punk rock star when she needs cheering up.
I found a community here. Not just a friends group, but an entire support system where so many people care and so many people want to help, be it my floor’s student adviser with comfort after a break-up or the director of the Center for International Studies with help and finances to create my dream project. And yes, I’ve had my heart broken once or twice. Even you and I, Grinnell, have had a few fights, but we came out better for it in the end.
You don’t understand how much I’ll miss you. Even I don’t think I fully comprehend it. I’ll miss the dorm’s smell of clean showers in the morning, the smell of fresh paint in the Rosenfield Center, and the smell of granola in my own room. I’ll miss walking only five minutes to get to my morning classes — especially in the winter.
Today, I spoke on the phone with a Grinnell alumna who graduated perhaps six years ago. I was looking forward to insightful advice on entering the publishing world. She was looking forward to hearing about how good old Grinnell had changed since she’d left. We talked for nearly an hour, and she laughed when she discovered I worked at Burling Library. Why, she’d worked there too! Was Brian still there? He was, he was. “I miss them all so much,” she said.
Even after graduation, you never leave us do you, Grinnell? That’s comforting to know. It really is. Because as terrified as it had been to apply for colleges and find a place to spend my next four years, I’m even more terrified to leave it.
Molly Rideout '10 is a English major and Gender and Women's Studies concentrator from Madison, Wisconsin.