I know I’m a sentimental person and I am not used to admit it.

I’ve been writing this post for a long time. Some part of me seems broken after leaving the US and I failed to know how to deal with it. Dates after graduation has been surreal for me. I remember the day when I arrived at the US for the first time, staying in a hotel near the airport and staring at the orange sunset on the shore of a small lake behind the hotel. Even though it’s sunset, the orange was warm and soothed my nervous mind. The most frequent words I say to people for a while was "surreal" since that time. At yet, I don’t know which one is more surreal, graduating and leaving the US, or the first couple of months of life in the US. Together, they both feel like fragments of some sweet dream, which can only be found in memories.

I’ve been trying to write something since my graduation. But every time a few sentences were jotted down, they were deleted. I can feel sorting out this departure is like untangling strings that straps a scary and bleeding wound. Even a tiny touch felt painful and the pain felt like something I had yet experienced every time.

I’ve been wondering what’s hurting me that much. The answer seems simple: I’m losing many things from my grip: the place, the culture, and the people there. Even though part of my undergrad journey was not very pleasant, I’m grateful about everything. The professors were kind and trying to be helpful as much as they can. The peers at Reed were amazing. We were all trying to break out our comfort zone to learn and grow. People in Portland were warm-hearted and the environment of Portland cannot be more perfect in my standard, making me unable to stop bragging the place when I’m in London. I miss talking to peers in the common about the math problems they are working on; I miss smiling and saying hi to people and they respond back with a warm greeting and smile; I miss I can just go to the canyon to see the ducks and swans gliding and swimming in the lake.

But when I look deep into my thoughts, I know it’s saying goodbye to all the friends that hurt me the most, which I acknowledge but am reluctant to show. I remember the time I was having lunch with John one day near our graduation. Spring was almost there, shedding warm sun shines and trying to resolve the winds from winter; cherry blossoms started to bloom and fly and dance all over the campus. We were discussing our plans after graduation and all of a sudden I realized everything will be gone in such short the time and I probably can’t see my friends again. The water of emotion breaks down the dam, washing down everything downstream in my head. It was silent, but yet the water smashed at everything it touched, splashing up sprays that eventually turned to my tears and streamed down my face. I cried, hard. John hugged me. It was warm, like the spring sun shine, shedding on the shattered dam just like an apocalyptic scene in movies.

What I didn’t realize is that the water’s momentum would not decrease even a tiny bit in the upcoming months.

I should have hugged all my friends before leaving. For those who I failed to meet before my departure, I’m truly sorry and I really hope we will meet and laugh together again. I love you, and wish all the best to you.

Today is April 1st 2024, almost a year after the graduation. I can feel the water is slowing down slightly and the wound is somewhat less painful intimidating. I don’t think this means the Reed dream is fading away nor the feelings are fading away. The memories will always be cherished and will shine like the spring sun shine, warm and powerful, helping me defend the winds from the winter.

rainbow before climbing

blossoms near climbing gym

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms