A wise man once said, “That’s what people do. They leap and hope to God they can fly. Because otherwise, we just drop like a rock, wondering the whole way down, ‘Why in the hell did I jump?’” It was Hitch. Hitch said that.  I am not actually leaping, but CMC, you are pushing me out of the nest, and you have no idea if I can fly. I have no idea if I can fly. I’m pretty sure I am going to make a completely pathetic attempt at flying. I am pretty sure I am going to drop faster than panties at a party played by DJ In2ition.

So I’m sitting in Poppa listening to “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit on repeat because, quite pathetically, it’s the only way I’ve found to make myself not cry. For about a week now, especially after Caroline Nyce’s recent Thought Catalog post (if you haven’t read it, you should), I have been actively, and quite consciously, delaying some weird emotional breakdown that is, unfortunately, inevitable. This has been the most intense and fun year of my life, and this past month has been nothing short of epic. I can’t leave CMC now; are they crazy? They’re just going to kick me out? Can’t they tell I’m not ready?

Every time someone asks me if I am excited about graduation, I want to punch them in the nose. No, I am not excited to leave all of my friends and to have to buy a winter coat and to live in a place without day parties and dining halls and bare feet. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess: I applied to transfer freshman year. I was scared, and thought that a change of location and institution would somehow delay the unavoidable: real, harsh, grown-up change and acceptance of complete strangeness. I was hiding from the fact that I am not Peter Pan, and that maturity does loom on the horizon. It wasn’t you, CMC, it was me. But my acceptance to another school sent me running back, reminded by the new faces in my life and the jarring reality of the inescapable- I had come here for a reason. I came to CMC because I knew, or thought I knew, that  it was the right place for me. And I was right, but for all the wrong reasons.

I thought I was here for the cliché “balance” of academics, for the Econ department, for the career opportunities, for the professors, for the weather, for the fun. And don’t get me wrong, these are all reasons why I am here, but the reasons I stayed go so far beyond that. The more time I spend thinking about what I’m scared to lose, the more I realize that it is quite literally everything. I am scared of losing the feeling I get when I see flocks of students sitting in the fountain or walking through North Quad and hearing a blend of EDM and country and Pete Seeger blasting from the multitude of open doors. I am going to miss everyone complaining when it drops below 60 degrees and that kid next to me in class who asked me why the hell I would major in literature. And as cliché as it is, I don’t know how I am going to live without seeing all my friends the second I step outside in the morning. The people here have exceeded every expectation I ever had.

This is my love letter to CMC, as well as my apology. I am sorry I ever doubted you. I get it now. I’m finding myself terrified that my freshman friends won’t do CMC “right.” That they won’t figure out their ideal sliders order at Some Crust, that they won’t find their favorite late night spot (Queen’s 24/7 Donuts in Pomona, you’re welcome), that they won’t sneak into the pool and get chased out by Camp Sec, jump off Hermit Falls, or make really, really dumb mistakes. Because at CMC, I had broken bones, breakups, miserable academic failings, and issues at home, as I am sure most of my classmates did. But if I can be this miserable about leaving, I must have done something right.

So thank you, CMC, for creating a situation I am not ready to fly away from. Thank you for letting me grow and develop, because even if I’m not leaving polished and refined and stable and ready, I am leaving miles better than you found me. My fear of dropping isn’t because you did something wrong, it’s because you did everything right. I don’t think I am quite ready to fly forward and not look back, and that seems like just a plain awkward way to fly. Right now, my time at CMC feels like a slow motion dance video that I can’t walk away from. I am terrified of what I am about to lose. And I know that leaving means going down before I go back up, because there is so little that can match what I have just experienced. There is so, so little that can even come close.