May 18, 1999
Volume 51, No. 31
Quad's meaning, memories change greatly over four years
I step out of my car and into a cold, biting wind outside of Tarbutton Hall on my way to the Quad for my final dance rehearsal. Looking across the street and over the track at the P.E. Center and the trees that frame it, I see the same breathtaking scene I see every day walking to class, but which today is tinted with nostalgia.
Earlier in the day I received a letter that solidified my plans to attend the University of Cincinnati in the fall. Realizing it is 5:30, I quickly gather my things and head up the stairs between Geosciences and Tarbutton, pass the Psychology Building, briskly walk between Callaway and Cannon Chapel and slow after seeing I am the first to arrive. The Quad is empty, and as I take in the stillness and tranquility, my mind floats back to my first day at Emory.
The sharp contrast between the two days shakes me as I walk to the flagpole and lower myself to the ground. That day was a sweltering 90 degrees, and the Quad was filled with parents, staff and students. I felt lost and small. Around me upperclassmen ran to each other, reuniting after a long summer apart. The shrieks and laughter conveyed a happiness and contentment I lacked that day.
I watched timid parents hold on to one another for support as they met faculty and staff who comforted them and also members of my own class, conversing as if they'd known each other for years. I wanted to fit in but didn't, and a queasy feeling of discomfort found its way to my stomach. I searched for a familiar face and, not finding one, looked for a recognizable landmark. But I didn't even know how to retrace the steps back to my dorm. Hundreds of miles away from friends and family, I felt empty and scared. I had no idea how I would spend four years in a place at which I felt so distant. At that moment I wanted to be as far away from Emory as possible.
Snapping out of my trance, I look at the same buildings I had seen that day. I now know them as Bishops Hall and the Carlos Museum. I stare at the tree that seemed so menacing that day and remember picnicking under it with my best friend in celebration of my 19th birthday. I glance at the bench where I sat on alone my first day and smile, thinking about my philosophy class gathered around it on a warm spring afternoon.
As that nervous freshman, I never thought these surroundings would become so familiar or that the overwhelming feeling of an enormous new setting would be replaced by the warmth of cozy home. I never thought then that this place would bring me friends to laugh with, cry with, fall in love with, reminisce with and dance with. At this moment I know that who I am comes from somewhere between these marble walls we call Emory, the walls that surrounded and supported me through four years of growth. I probably would have done similar things at any other school. I still would have danced, joined groups and organized programs. Yet without Emory I wouldn't done those things with these people.
This month the Quad was filled again. Instead of welcoming me, it bade me farewell. Instead of being alone, I was surrounded by all of the people I love. Instead of only listening to the laughter, I was a part of it. Instead of emptiness, I was filled with memories of four years I would give anything to relive. This time I didn't cry because I wanted to leave-I cried because I wanted to stay.
A biology major, Roshni Patel will study medicine this fall at the
University of Cincinnati.