My first year here, I wondered how things will have changed in four years when I was just about to graduate.
Will I have found my place in this university? Will I have met people who changed my life? Will I have discovered my path and purpose? Will I miss Gainesville?
I will miss afternoons on the Plaza of the Americas. I will miss Krishna Lunch, and indulging in my favorite Thursday subji. I will miss greeting the Hare Krishnas, especially Hanan, in all of his unassuming grace. I will miss the secret garden/alcove by Grinter Hall, and the countless hours spent there lunching, musing, and watching squirrels. I will miss walking through Turlington Square and its demonstrators, proselytizers, campaigners, and four-square players. I will miss brisk morning walks to the bus stop, and lurching bus rides to campus. I will miss watching humans peaking around corners to see if there are zombies afoot. I will miss doing stadiums and then climbing to the top of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at sunset. I will miss Mwalimu Matondo and my hilarious Swahili class. I will miss rehearsals with the Africa Choir on Fridays at 3pm, the perfect end to my week. I will miss singing for Duncan Miano Wambugu, one of the most phenomenal conductors this world has ever known. I will miss picking up Merise every Monday and Wednesday for West African drumming class, drumming my heart out, and getting arepas at Fritanga afterward. I will miss Recurso meetings, and the friends I have grown so close to over the years. I will miss doing research at the Center for African Studies, as well as its dedicated faculty members who have literally changed my life’s trajectory. I will miss spending Sundays and mornings with Dr. Silva in the office. I will miss downtown Gainesville, and all of the quirky charm it has to offer. I will miss dancing at Neon Liger, and the characters that it attracts even more, especially the drag queens. I will miss having heart to hearts with Joanna. I will miss that night when we drove out to Paynes Prairie at midnight and stargazed on the hood of my car. And I will miss the day we went hiking at San Felasco State Park. I will miss eating at The Top, especially their pecan encrusted/blackened tofu and corn nuggets. I will miss the chiming of the bells of Century Tower, especially when they play Christmas carols in December. I will miss reading the quotes engraved outside of Grinter Hall, and taking the elevator up to the fourth floor at least twice a day. I will miss the night my roommates and I went on a mad quest to watch the Leoneids meteor shower, and our conversations that last for hours. I will miss my cooking escapades in our kitchen. I will miss the adorable cows that we live next to at the beef teaching unit, and listening to their sweet moos as I walk by their pasture. I will miss my number-two-pencil-colored bedroom. I will miss the potlucks and picnics. I will miss Lake Wauberg and Lake Alice. I will miss stimulating discussions with the most intelligent and articulate woman I know, Stacey Gray, and plotting and scheming with the irreplaceable Jacob “work smarter not harder” Fyda. I will miss their fabulous condo, and the granite counter tops that were the source of Stacey’s guilt. I will miss the night Jacob and I found a kitten in his engine, and spent the next three hours trying to get it out and find it a home. I will miss $2 tempeh burgers on Wednesdays at Mother’s pub, and walking there after Swahili with Gloria and Tamra. I will miss Gainesville’s concerts and theater performances, and the (multiple) national championships we’ve celebrated on University Ave. I will miss the random alligators on campus. I will miss Gainesville’s art festivals. I will miss making appearances at Rotary meetings at Tapas 12, and my Rotary family, especially Mr. Robar, Dr. Casagrande/JC, and Dr. Craddock. I will miss the lessons learned. I will miss the failures. I will miss the personal crises. I will miss the “character building experiences.” I will miss every time that I found the courage to face my fears. And I will miss the feeling of finally finding myself ‘at home.’
I will miss this place. And it is with profound gratitude and love, that I say goodbye.