I finished my final exam yesterday*, certain it wouldn’t go well. Fortunately, I proved myself wrong and walked out with a goofy grin and a pleasant high. Though, over a short time, my thoughts began to turn once again to my departure later this week. But they also turned back, to how I spent my last several days.
Friday evening. I remember standing outside of residence and I smoked a cigarette while gazing at the nearly-full moon on the horizon, though the sky was still brightly lit. Reflecting on the fact that there was exactly one week remaining before my flight, I was also waiting to hear from some friends regarding our plans to go to the last organized party of the year.
Later that night, in Parc de Gayeulles with half of the students from Sciencespo, I promised myself and my friends that I wasn’t going to be drinking much and that I would be leaving early. The music was loud and we talked and laughed and time passed too quickly. Hours passed, the crowd had become fewer, and more dense. I said my goodbye to several people, whose presence I realize I had not appreciated enough over the year. I stumbled into some of my closest friends, wandering through the crowd, tears pouring down their faces. Some could be comforted with a hug, while certain others were inconsolable. Tempers, my own included, would flare and soften in minutes from the combination of stress, alcohol, and a few badly chosen words. By the end of the night, as I left the house party where we ended up, it did seem that a peace and calm had been found.
Saturday was in Normandy. I found Honfleur to have one of the most beautiful centers of almost anywhere I’ve visited in France. As the sun set over Le Havre, my friends and I drove over the Pont de Normandie. I sat in the backseat staring, silent. I felt the others sensed something was wrong, but nothing was. Perhaps they realized why, remembering their own exchanges and the polarization of feelings and moods that washes over you near the end. We arrived at the grand hotel and casino in Cabourg, where I sipped a drink quietly while watching a band perform covers of classic rock songs. Everything in the moment felt correct. Almost serendipitous.
I found myself looking out over the English Channel, under the now-full moon, when we arrived back in Lion-sur-Mer where we stayed. The following afternoon, I found myself in the water. I had reluctantly agreed to join a friend of mine in going in, telling myself that this was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. People on the beach in coats and blankets may have thought us strange as we trotted through the sand in bathing suits. We had planned to run into the water, but instead had to wade through at knee depth among rocks to reach a shallower and sandy spot to begin running. The water felt ice cold. I ran in and fell into the water and as I felt the frigid shock of the water, there was this feeling of cleansing, I suppose. I had forgotten about the saltiness of the ocean until I tasted the water on my lips. It was a moment when I could forget all else and just feel that everything is as it should be.
*I began to write this post on Tuesday, but didn’t find myself able to complete it until today