One of the best things about being a senior in college is the phrase “this is the last time I’m going to/ have to…” Although the school year is only halfway through, I have been able to utter the expression a couple of times, and those instances are referred to as the “lasts”. Some of the lasts from this semester include my last midterm, my last final exam , and my last door decorating contest.
My favorite one is definitely my last winter break from school. The whole process is quite troublesome. If the college has perfected anything over its last forty years, it’s the art of making the simple things in life into a drawn-out and tedious process.
I go in to the Dean of Women’s office and filled out a pink triplicate form filled in with the following: how long I was going to be gone, how I was going home (flying), and how I was getting to the airport. I have to drop off the form with enough time for it to be approved.
I pick up the form the day before school let out for break. The DOW office is decorated with informative pink posters reading that the
dress code for the last day of school was “College Casual”. This means that the women are expected to wear hosiery, and everyone is prohibited from wearing denim, two rules I expected to disregard first thing tomorrow morning. I spend the whole night packing essentials for a three-week trip home for the holidays. I am so excited to have access to food and free laundry, and especially tv!
The next morning I show up to the special chapel service in dark-wash denim (hoping nobody would notice), and boots to hide my missing nylons/tights. My boyfriend saved me a seat behind the orchestra, where we usually sit. This is our last chapel service. He’s leaving this semester, and I’ll be student teaching off-campus. As I look at him I realize that when I come back in three weeks, he’s not going to be there to greet me. We’re not going to sit and talk about our break over coffee in the book store. I tear up a bit, but shake it off as I pull out my phone to look over my confirmation number one more time. The chapel service starts with orchestral pieces and some singing from different choir groups. Before I know it, the aging college “president emeritus” is singing the dismissal song, “have yourself a merry little Christmas..” Students grab their bags in anticipation for the word…”NOW!” And just like that the auditorium turns into a zoo. My boyfriend walks me out, loads my luggage into the trunk of my friend’s car, and we share quick goodbyes.
The airport was just as packed as I thought it would be. Skirts everywhere, seems like the entire college is here. After successfully getting through security and checking my bags, I wait by my terminal, which is somehow already packed, even though I’m an hour early. I’m guessing that about a tenth of the college students are from California, but I manage to always get on flights where I know no one. Most of the time, I like it that way, but after leaving my boyfriend, I find myself wanting someone to talk to. I look around and wonder which lucky person I’m going to be sitting next to for four hours. Not that it matters, I find myself very awkward at small talk. The irony of having a fear of talking to people and most of a teaching degree. I end up sitting next to a sketchy man with a Jimmy John’s emblem on his black shirt and his nose stuck in the Hunger Games for the duration of the flight. Our only interaction for four hours was him peering over the top of his book as he watched me slide into the aisle seat. I looked over at him, but he quickly averted his eyes, looked down, and began to read again. I spent the flight between crossword puzzles, The Big Bang Theory, and a funny book on rap my boyfriend bought me for Christmas.
It turns out that my flight out of Chicago left thirty minutes later than scheduled. I check my phone as the plane lands in Phoenix and discover that I have fifteen minutes to catch my connecting flight to San Diego. Before the flight attendant gets on the intercom, I’m
already unbuckled and out of my seat trying to get as far as I can. I only make it three seats, before the other passengers get up to unload their carry-ons. I make it off the plane with about seven minutes to spare. I look down and chunky-heeled boots, shrug, and start running. I have my boarding pass out and ready. It was a long run. I ran past many weary travelers using the moving walkways. I’m sure the sight of me running in boots providing entertainment to many in the airport bar that were pointing at me as I jogged on by. I made it to my terminal with two minutes. I spent those minutes hunched over, and panting. I was still out of breath when I boarded with the A group.
It was a quick one hour flight, and before I knew it, I was home. I am greeted by my sister, and California weather. I’m happy to be home, the only thing that made me happier was the next time I’m traveling to California will be in five months, I’ll be an official graduate. I’ll really be home then.