Memory for forgetfulness

By Blanca Torii

It’s coming to a close, the end of my college experience. It’s not the end of school for me, but the term “college experience” as I so often saw, read and heard as depicted before attending. I had this idea of college before I came to USD. I saw dorm rooms, microwaveable food, read about activities with red cups and heard about people having the best time of their lives.

I’m not the ‘feeling’ type; I don’t usually get sentimental. But there’s a sense of nostalgia that arrives with the inclusion of anything that comes to a close.

In the words of J. K. Rowling, “I open at the close.”

You know that feeling; that sense of being on the verge, of teeter-tottering back and forth between the final and looking back on the beginning. When a firework is about the explode, at the final moment there is a pause. The sparks fly about, then rest on the wick. The same with a candle about to go out. The semester is almost to an end. The challenge is almost complete, the puzzle is about to be solved.

In the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, one of Harry’s tasks is to solve a puzzle including a snitch (used in the game of Quidditch) with the five words engraved on the side. Eventually someone tips him off to hold the snitch underwater and he solves the riddle.

I don’t know exactly what will “open at the close,” once I walk across the stage, but I do notice a difference in my attitude. The change in my attitude stems partly from the sense of expectancy and excitement in people asking me what I’m going to do after graduation. They ask me whether I’ve just met them or known them since freshman year. I can feel the motivation returning, the onset of “senioritis” has passed and clear thinking has taken its place. I can feel that rise of opportunities. It’s padded with filling out applications, perfecting resumes, etc., of course; it’s not completely based in musings. The semester is not yet finished. The feeling is not so much the sadness that comes with endings but a certain anticipation of some sort of build-up about to be exposed.

The other day I was looking at the sunset. This was a few weeks ago. I understood something in that moment. The sun between the trees and the sky in the foreground created a picturesque image. I wanted my camera, badly. I wanted to share it with my friends. But I resisted the urge and I just stood there in awe. I’ve never understood not wanting to live in the moment; not doing something volatile as an excuse to live in the moment, but wanting to enjoy the moment as it is. This way of thinking for me is starting to change. Only then did I understand the desire to capture a moment, encapsulate it, save it for later. To remember it as it was, for the future.

Behind the baseball field, in the same place where I saw the sunset, there used to be words graffitied on a telephone pole. It’s now washed off, but it used to say, “Life is not spectator sport, so quit watching.” Photographers stay in the background. They don’t participate in whatever event they’re covering.

Yet it’s okay to not always take pleasure in the moment. It’s okay to think of the future. Memories are so malleable. It’s okay to want to have an image to recall the memory. Memory works in this way. It latches onto images from our experiences and are triggered by these images. I’ve always been afraid of morphing memories into something that differs from the way they actually happened. Now I seem to have solved a part of that puzzle. I hope to carry with me, wherever I go, whatever I have, pictures, papers, ticket stubs, to remember my time at USD. I know you will too.