So, this is my last year. I'm still kind of blown away by it.
I'm not the only one, of course. There are at least thirty-four of us graduating next Brigid--more, if any of the new yearlings turn out to be one-hit-wonders. Ten of us are fourth-years. We were yearlings together. It feels like that was a million years ago.
Dan, who is, I always add, not me, has become a competent Wiccan priest and a gifted violinist. He's a good storyteller, too, and doesn't put his foot in his mouth as much as he used to.
Joanna is now a Wiccan priest and spellworker with an interest in someday becoming a women's studies professor. I still can't quite speak coherently in her presence and she still teases me every chance she gets.
Raven G., the last of the Ravens, my fellow horticulturalist, is an animist very much after Charlie's model.
Sally, one of Joy's students, is even younger than me but is now a skilled horsewoman. I don' think I've talked about her at all, but she works in the library so I've actually talked with her a lot--usually about the location of one or another book I needed.
There's Brad, a martial artist, a student of Karen's and a member of the security team. Darren is also on the security team, but wants to become a therapist. Diane and Donna are both fellow students of Charlie, and Dillon studies both martial arts and Zen flower arrangement.
(Nora and Kayla are fourth years, too, of course, but aren't graduating with us)
But among all of these people there are none who have ever done this before--started their final year. By definition, anyone who has is already gone. And yeah, I feel weird about it.
"'Weird' isn't the name of a feeling," said Allen, when I talked to him about it at breakfast. He was giving me a hard time. When I was a yearling in group therapy he made a point of getting us to name our feelings.
"Disconcerted, then," I amended. "Slightly anxious."
"I don't want to leave," I told him. Greg nodded. Greg, Allen, Dillon, and Raven G, and I were all having breakfast together. The Dining Hall sounded really noisy after months away from it, and, at least to me, the whole thing seemed nearly elgiaic.
Allen nodded, too.
"When I graduated," he said, "I was nearly grief-stricken. I was a one-hit wonder. It wasn't long enough."
"So, you came back?" said Dillon.
"I did, although that's not exactly why. If you can't make it on the outside emotionally, you'd have a hard time getting hired here."
"I'm not there yet," said Dillon. "I'm still here, I don't want to worry about whether I'm coming back."
"Grief-stricken?" repeated Raven.
"Maybe that's what I'm feeling," I volunteered. "It's like nothing here is real anymore. It's like I've already left. And it feels like I just got here."
"That's not unusual," said Greg. "As you get older and more mature, you'll get better at coping with loss, better at moving gracefully through beginnings and endings."
"I hadn't thought gracelessness was my problem."
"Of course not," Greg said, with some humor. I didn't understand. "But you said there's no one left who's been through what you're experiencing. That's not true. All of us in the master's group, except me, have been graduating students. And it's not like we don't know you're graduating. Have fun with it, meet your final credit requirements, and we will have events scheduled throughout the year to help you make sense of the transition. That's our job, after all."
You know, thinking about what Greg does for a living--mostly, he teaches meditation--you'd kind of think he'd advise me to stay in the moment. I mean, getting upset about leaving when leaving is still almost a whole year away--it's not really very Zen. He could also have said snap out of it, because nothing is really wrong. It's not like graduating from college is a tragedy. But instead he tells us that feeling a bit freaked out is normal, that we're not alone, and to have fun.
I guess neither Greg, nor any of the other masters, like to spend much time on the obvious truths.