I’m sitting in my childhood bedroom at my parent’s house in Columbus being flooded of memories from the last four years.
Walking up Morton Hill as I exited my freshman dorm on my way to my first journalism course. Leaving my sophomore dorm to play basketball on the courts at South Beach with friends and strangers who later became friends. Spending my time with people I loved junior year since most of them were about to graduate and I didn’t know when our paths would cross again. And then of course senior year where I spent every day soaking up the moment because I knew it would end.
What I didn’t know, was how it would end.
For the last month and change – though it feels exponentially longer – I’ve spent the time trying to put into words how I wanted to say goodbye to a town that gave me more than I ever thought it would.
I, like every other senior, had plans on how I was going to spend the remaining weeks in Athens. There were various Court Street bar crawls being planned – a quick thank you to The Pigskin for making my senior year so memorable. The Post has so many senior traditions that I was looking forward to partaking in. Some of those traditions are emotional, such as the senior sendoff, others are more light-hearted like our end of the year get together.
Of course, those plans were at first put on hold, and then eventually canceled. How could I be forced to say goodbye when it still wasn’t over? That contention led to a lot of headbutts between my mom and I, who told me that it’s time to start thinking as if I had already graduated.
It hurt to say goodbye when I wasn’t ready. But then again, is anyone ever really ready for a goodbye when you know that it’s going to hurt no matter when?
I let myself be sad for longer than I should have, but then my perspective changed. The sadness I had felt changed into appreciation.
Sure, I physically had to say goodbye, but the truth is, Athens will always be with me. The bricks that make the campus so beautiful will still be there. The cherry blossoms along the Hocking still bloomed this spring. Schoonover Center is still standing. And of course, Baker 325, which is home to the best student-ran newspaper in the country, is still intact.
No, the class of 2020 didn’t get the traditions. It didn’t get the final last call on Court Street. It didn’t get one last hike throughout the various hills nearby. But it did get something that very few people can say.
The complete and absolute joy of experiencing what a town in the foothills of the Appalachians can give if you allow yourself to change.
I grew up in Athens. I learned a lot in classes and my experiences at The Post of course, but the last four years taught me more about how to be a good person. How to handle stressful situations, and honestly on some days, how to simply get out of bed and put my feet on the ground again.
So, with a full heart filled with the best years of my life, goodbye, Athens. We will see each other someday when the life of the city is back. When the restaurants are busy, the shops open and the sidewalks full. When the bricks are occupied, Peden is rocking and Bobcats are home.
Matt Parker is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and is the sports editor of The Post. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Matt? Tweet him @matthewlparker5.