Saturday, June 13, 2009

The End of The Beginning

Summer began at approximately 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

It was the moment I have been waiting for- something we have all been waiting for since we began in September. Now that it’s here, I have to wonder- what exactly was it that I was hoping to reach? Why did I treat each day as if I was passing time, counting down the days until now- holding on to the notion that something better would arrive at the end of something already so good.

I seem to be infatuated with endings and new beginnings. I have to ask myself why I am always waiting to close a chapter- believing all the while, that whatever comes next, will outdo whatever it is I possess now.

I’m 28- and I’ve had more than a few chapters- probably a number of books to be honest. You would think that by this point- with all the volumes under my belt, I would have figured out that it’s obtuse to wait for the end of something perfectly fine. Just because it’s current, doesn't mean that it’s not valuable. But inevitably, I wait for the end. And then without fail, I look back with fondness…oftentimes I look back with sadness- longing to reclaim that which has already passed- reaching for something long gone.

Sometimes the realization comes weeks later...months…maybe years. This time, however, it happened about 30 seconds post-culmination.

We arrived at school at 9:00 am for the final portion of the strategy course- the so-called “awards ceremony.” (something- if truth be told, I wasn't too interested in, being that I more or less “resigned” from my team when I was unhappy with a not-so-strategic acquisition. So much for emotional intelligence).

Be that as it may- it was the last day of the last class of the first year of the MBA, so I was happy to be in attendance. The morning proceeded as normal: alarm clock, sift through clothes scattered around my floor, walk, bus, metro, walk some more, coffee, croissant, class, coffee break, conversation, class, and then it was over.

That was it.

“Have a great summer, see you next fall. Good luck on your internships and if you don't have an internship, enjoy Barcelona.”

Amidst chatter and footsteps, students filed out of the room. Before long- everybody was gone. Everyone had something to do, somewhere to go- whether it was to the café to grab one last muddy coffee, lunch at a nearby restaurant, home to sleep before the farewell dinner, or to the airport to begin the next phase of the MBA. Besides myself- the room was empty. I sat in my seat at the back of the class- books open, feet folded under me, completely still.

I sat staring at the front of the room for a good half hour. I sat and sat doing absolutely nothing. Had it been any other day, I would have been one of the first out of class- never dawdling…never having a moment to just sit and breathe and appreciate the time and the place and the people. Every other day, I always found something I would rather be doing.

This day, however, I didn't want to be anywhere else. I couldn't think of any place better than where I was. I looked at the board- dusty from the chalk, with quasi-indecipherable words that wont mean a thing to me come September. I stared out the windows that I have stared out everyday for the past year- in rain and shine- morning and night- through all four seasons- and before I even left, I missed those windows. I already missed the chalkboard, the sound system that never works, the desk, the chairs, the walls. I already missed my classmates. I know that we have next year- but things will have changed….some people will be off on exchange, many of us will be on totally different tracks- taking courses at different times on different days.

This really was the last time, until graduation, we will all be together. And I realized that I have found comfort in the people that have surrounded me this past year. That whether I was struggling with a financial ratio or coming up with some new way to increase the efficiency of a supply chain, I would look up and see the faces of the 60 people I have come to know and learned to love- each individually, and as a whole- a group who, in its entirety, has become a part of my family. And as much as I complain, I’ve had one of the best years of my life.

So eventually, after nearly an hour, I too- packed up my bag and strolled out of the same classroom that only a year ago, intimidated me as I perused the ESADE website. A room whose photographs appear all over the brochures, with its blue carpets matching its blue curtains, microphones peeking out from the corners of the ceiling, and professional looking students doing things I had never even dreamed of learning. Now, not am I only one of them, but I’m over half done.

It has only been a day since the final moments- it’s only the end of the first year- and I’m already wistfully looking back, full of nostalgia and longing, for something that has yet to end.

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