I am rumbling down the grey corridor that suctions the plane to the Detroit airport. I say rumbling because my stomach is empty and because my carry-on suitcase is far too full. So, they fuss in harmony as I make my way to the baggage claim. It is a ritual now, a process that almost happens outside of my mind entirely. For there is no mistaking the direction I am heading. One last year. Two last semesters. And at the end of the tunnel, a graduation with silly hats and sillier robes. These thoughts, too, exist without conscious prompting. They occur to me as flitting imaginings. Simultaneously as I walk towards Ann Arbor, I am walking away.
I am sitting in the bus, snugly tucked into a seat and an audio book. The man sitting next to me is thankfully engaged in talking to another. A younger man, his son perhaps, listens while fiddling with the edge of his Michigan Engineering t-shirt. The shirt fits well, I wonder if the degree suits him too. For me, at least, it is much too late. Decisions made years ago have snowballed into inevitabilities by now. Maybe that is why I feel so snug in my seat. There are no more choices to make. Instead, I roll forward with the bus, predestined by my previous decisions to choose a certain major, to choose a certain path.
Even my bedroom, when I finally find the energy to arrange it, settles into a familiar shape. The drawer is filled with the same melange of forgotten cables, packets of tea, and Tupperware. There are some informational pamphlets that have accompanied me all the way from Freshman Orientation. I have never read them, and I never will. Still, I find a place for them in the same folder. Everything in its place, including myself. Right now, my place is here at the University of Michigan. Next year, it simply won’t be. And after four years of doing slight, though definitely improving, variations on the same theme, I am not sure how it will feel.
I remember flying into Detroit alone for the very first time as a freshman. With no parents within questioning distance, I was set adrift in the airport, attempting desperately to find the bus to Ann Arbor. Even successfully boarding the bus did not entirely overcome my anxiety. I insisted on tracking our long, winding journey on Google Maps. I watched our moving blue dot to make sure that I was in the right place. Heading into senior year, there is much less doubt. Much less eager eyed anticipation too. Many things have become expected and predictable. Certainly, I can now point to the exact date in October where the ever-accumulating pile of homework will finally topple and crush me. It is comforting and nostalgic, all at once, to recognize these routines and habits. Picked up and collected, like so many little treasures, these are the experiences that have built up, experiences that have become harmonies. Each year as we complete these rituals, they resonate a little bit differently. Together, they form some sort of pattern, some sort of song.