Another Legacy, 4.13

Bloganuary Daily Prompt for January 24, 2023: How do you show love?

From the Journal of Nicki Flores

My dorm room stands stripped of all my belongings: clean, empty, and ready for the next student who will spend four years of his or her life here.

I can’t believe I’ll be leaving all this behind.

My dormmate Yusuf came to say goodbye.

“Let’s keep in touch!” he said.

“Oh, we will! We will!” We have to.

I’d really wanted to end my college soccer career on a high note, but we lost. As usual.

I felt sad and disappointed in losing, like always. But I also realized that I am really, really going to miss this. I’ve loved being a soccer player, even on the losing team. I’ve just loved college, every moment of it, and losing soccer games is part of that. I’ve loved it.

After my last finals, I was off the team–officially graduated, even if we hadn’t had the ceremony yet, so I couldn’t play anymore. Soccer is over.

But that meant that for the first time in my entire four years at the university, I was free for the Saturday Night Dorm Party!

Asuka came, and we danced in the party room down the hall.

The party got a little weird with dormmate drama. That’s one thing I won’t miss. And it made me realize that I don’t really regret that being busy with soccer kept me away from college parties. They’re not that great, after all.

I found an empty easel in a quiet corner and painted a portrait of Asuka.

I wanted to capture Asuka’s quietness, her sort of peaceful happiness, that’s just there wherever she is. In the painting, she’s partly blocked by the dresser, and that seemed symbolic to me of the way she sort of stays in the background, there, beautiful, but not demanding.

I think some people would paint the person they loved front and center. But I wanted to show Asuka how she is, bright and colorful in drab surroundings, but not demanding. Quiet and peaceful. I call the painting, “Love is Always There.”

My last day at college, before the graduation ceremony, I jogged through campus. I just sort of breathed in all the memories. I haven’t really spent much time dreaming of the future because I’ve been so busy with finishing up the term and meeting all the graduation requirements, and I wasn’t ready to start opening that bag of dreams yet.

Dad’s already moved to Sulani–he got that job! And I’ll be joining him tomorrow.

But this last day, I just wanted to remember. I’ve loved this so much, and I want to pull it all into me, so that my whole experience here becomes part of my bones. I want to take this with me.

I’d always wanted to participate in the debates, but I could never find the time, due to practice, games, studying, and studio work, but finally, that last day, I was able to join in!

I felt pretty confident. Just talk from your heart, right?

Well, no. Debates come more from the logical brain. I did terribly!

But at least I can say that I have had the experience of a college debate!

At last it was time for the graduation ceremony.

The UBrite mascot found me while we were waiting to make it into the graduation hall, and we snapped a picture. I can’t wait to share this with my kid someday, once I adopt.

Then it was over. One last time riding my bike through campus.

Outside the sports arena, one of the new soccer recruits jogged to practice. It felt so odd not to be going in with him. I think missing practice will be one of he hardest things for me. My brain and body are just wired to head to the arena every weekday at 6 p.m. sharp.

When I got back to the dorm, there wasn’t a crowd of dormmates waiting to cheer me, just a few new students and one of my old friends.

“Well, I guess it’s off to the big world!” one of the new guys said.

“Ha! Good luck out there!” said the other.

It’s supposed to be exciting, heading out, starting fresh. Career! Family! Fame! All that good stuff.

But I’ve loved my life here. I’ve loved being a college student so much. I’m going to miss everything–even the stinky dorm hallways and the cold leftovers on the foyer table!

These years have been amazing, and the only way I know to show my love for them is to breathe all my memories so deep into me that they become part of who I am. I’m taking this experience with me.

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