McCULLOUGH: Pomp, circumstance and some good memories

Will McCullough

What a dilemma. School is ending; for my class, today will include the final classes ever taken on a non-professional basis. However, this topic has been broached countless times, at the very least during the commencement speeches of every graduation. How do you talk, or even think for that matter, in an original way about a topic so oft discussed? The answer is you really cannot. This is something I have found extremely comforting. It has happened before and will continue to happen. This attitude has also been adopted before but really is not that helpful for the people who are not so anxious to leave this zone of ultimate comfort. My brother, a freshman in high school, put it quite succinctly after I teased him about ending about a month before he does: “Yeah, well, you have life to deal with.” This cannot be put eloquently or avoided – it is simply scary to think of ourselves as adults.

A phrase many of us are familiar with – “There is more to learn in college than in the classroom” – is usually used as an appropriate excuse for ignoring work in favor of various enjoyable pursuits. In the time and space that exists, for the most part without laws or consequences, college work can always be pushed to the last minute.

There have been various cultural ups and downs that have been absorbed by Villanova. For instance, thanks to a certain population that lives in and around Orange County, Calif., we were given the impression of a decadent community, where more seemed to happen in an hour of screen time than in our entire lives. The local craze over the show seemed to gradually subside, but not before it took up many hours not just through physically watching but through discussion of the show as well. It is strange that a horribly written and extremely over-the-top show such as “The OC,” which was on the air for a relatively brief amount of time, will be forever associated with these years. This is not all that different from what our remembrances of school will be like. Comparatively mundane occurrences already have evolved or will evolve into the stories that make up what is remembered about our short time here.

Freshman and sophomore years are by all accounts a blur. Various abuses aside, everything comes so fast that processing the vast amount of stimuli proves too difficult a task to handle. Junior year seems all too fresh; this may be because many realize their behavior will eventually have consequences. Senior year seems like it has been one continuous bidding of adieu to the Villanova community. All these years resulting in the conversation template, “Hey, remember that time when [insert story here].” This phrase will dominate the conversations of reunions official and unofficial in the years to come. However, I am sure the phrase already has achieved a prominent place in conversations since the second semester of freshman year. The synthesis of absurd and commonplace experiences, observations and all-inclusive events alike – that likely could not happen in any environment other than the collegiate – is essential to how we will interact with each other in the future. Everyone will remember the consecutive nights at the end of the year when all sense of structure and civilization broke down in the Quad.

It will be a surreal and uncanny experience when physical objects remind us of memories or stories. For instance, I will certainly be taken aback when any bottle of Listerine reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, and plastic Halloween tote pumpkins remind me of mice and pizza. This is not the time or place to get into the particulars of why these objects will do this; the point is that everyone will have moments when they look at something and remember a story from their school years unexpectedly.

Now to fully descend into the tired approaches to this subject I was trying to avoid: although I do not really have any regrets, the thing I wish I had done more is get to know more people. There was always going to be another opportunity to do so, and now it has come to the end. Perhaps some could use my misstep as an example of an error not to repeat.

Now it is time for the obligatory summarizing quote, in this case from a Phish lyric: “This has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way.” McCullough out.


Will McCullough is a senior English major and economics minor from Plymouth Meeting, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].