Yesterday marks exactly one week since I said goodbye to Clemson and departed for Charlottesville, Virginia to begin Law School. I wish that I could tell you that the experience was easy and painless. However, we all know I’m a terrible liar.
It’s a good thing that I know the stretch of Highway 123 between Clemson and Easley like the back of my hand… both for me and those motorists who passed my Uhaul Truck the morning of August 6th, 2011. During that particular stretch of highway on that particular morning, my vision was terribly obstructed and blurred by an unfamiliar type of condensation which came from the ducts under my eyes. As I’m not a generally emotional person, I was wholly unprepared for the rush of emotion that hit me. That morning, as I said my last goodbye and left Clemson for the last time, I finally understood the expression “open the floodgates.” On the bright side, I think I now have a more vivid understanding of what it may have looked like when God “unparted” the Red Sea after Moses and the Israelites had safely crossed out of Egypt. (Exodus 14:26-28)
Before I left, I took a final drive through the campus that I walked across every day for the last 5 years. As I drove, it was only appropriate to listen to Doug McCormick’s “Tiger Raised in the Southland,” on repeat. The song itself brings to mind so many great memories. As many of you probably know, I think life would be a lot more fun if it were a musical (Note: A musical of the Singin’ in the Rain variety, not of the Mamma Mia! variety. Gene Kelley can be in my musical.Meryl Streep cannot.) If my life were a musical, I think Doug’s song would certainly be the headliner of my soundtrack.
As I drove around campus, so many memories came to mind. A previous version of this blog post actually listed those memories. (Luckily for you, my Thinkpad T60 (circa 2006) decided to take a holiday during that post and I had to start over.) Needless to say, virtually everything I looked at brought to mind a moment or memory that was incredibly special to me. If you’re reading this, I saw something or thought of something that reminded me of you and thought fondly of our time together.
After 5 years, Clemson really had become my home (Much to the chagrin of Jeannie and Kenneth Park). So much of my support and my relationships were centered on that little college town. Those relationships I had made with my very best friends in this world all started right there in Tiger Town. Everything I knew was there and everyone that knew me was there. The opening number from the sitcom “Cheers” comes to mind. Although I keep telling myself that sitcom is way before my time, its theme song really resonates when I think about Clemson:
Sometimes you want to go- Where Everybody Knows your name- And they’re always glad you came
Leaving Clemson and the Carolina’s really felt like I was leaving everything and everyone that I loved.
As a result of all leaving that which is so special behind and being alone in a new place, I think I was pretty depressed for the first few days I was here. I was killing time in a hotel until I was able to move in to my new apartment on Tuesday. I didn’t have much to do besides think about all the faces that I already missed terribly, knowing it was only going to get worse.
But as I began to think about it over the next few days, I realized that I wasn’t sad about leaving the place as much as I first thought. I was more afraid that the relationships that I had built in Clemson would change after I left. For me, those relationships that I built over my 5 years in Tiger Town are the “Something in these Hills,” that Joe Sherman talks about.
“I have my names and I see once more the faces and feel again the beloved personalities that go with them.”
Not only would I miss those familiar and kind faces, but I liked the idea of being a familiar face to others. I dread the day that I walk through Sirrine Hall or 110 Daniel Drive, or cross the Library bridge or enter the Student Union, and no longer am a familiar face to those people who mean so much to me.
In other words, I felt as though Clemson had become a huge part of me and I too had become a small part of Clemson. Clemson became my town and Clemson-ites became my family. The people I met there made me into the person that I am. And I’ll never be the same as a result of that time and those people.
In a town where people are constantly “passing through,” as Dr. Joel Brawley eloquently put it, it seems hard to come to the realization that I too am simply “passing through.” But I’m so thankful to have made those relationships and memories with so many special people who have blessed my life beyond measure. I hope and pray that those relationships stay strong and continue to bear fruit for the rest of my life.
Passing through, passing through,
Sometime happy, sometimes blue, glad that I ran into you.
Tell the people that you saw me passing through.