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Spirited Away by Afeefah K. '21

Guest Post By Freshly Alum'ed Wasay A. '19

*to set the mood*

The floor of my room is a bit of a scattered mess at this point. Some of the boxes are full, but hell if I know what’s actually in any of them.

While I finish packing the last of my clothes and move onto the items in my desk, the same questions that have been floating in my head for the last few weeks resound once more.

What are you taking with you? What are you leaving behind?

So I gingerly begin packing my last box. Some pictures. A couple of 3D-printed trinkets. Cards and letters. A gift from a friend. It fills up, but not completely. There’s enough space to leave me trying to figure out the things that might fit.

But all I can think about is the things that don’t, and the voice echoes.

What are you taking with you? What are you leaving behind?

And so I begin to list things out:

I’m taking all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through the last four years. I’m taking countless memories – happy and sad – and all the growth I’ve gone through because of them. I’m taking friendships and connections, and my half of all the different bonds that I’ve built. I’m taking new viewpoints of the world, attitudes and perspectives that I was blind to before.

The list continues to grow, until I switch gears and try to list what I’m leaving behind.

And… all I can really think of is the places. The infinite. Killian Court. Pappalardo. Maseeh. Lobby 7. 5th floor of the stud.

I’ve spent a decent amount of time wandering around campus in the last few weeks. Most of my friends have left by now, and as I walk through the hallways that ought to feel so familiar, there’s a feeling I can’t really describe. As if I’m out of place. It’s hard to believe that it could all feel so different just a few night later, but it does.

The campus may not have changed at all, but MIT will never be the same.

Because MIT is about the people. It’s a community. It’s my friends and classmates and professors and all the other people who contributed to the most pivotal years of my life so far.

I guess that’s my long winded way of hypothesizing that sometimes, we don’t either leave things or take them with us. We do both.

The foundation is left behind, for the next generation of the MIT community to make their own. But for those who are moving on to our next chapter, the spirit of the place goes with us, a place that we’ve never known without each other in it.

So I’ll be carrying my piece. Treasuring it on my own. But one day – maybe out in the street, at a conference, or perhaps on campus for a reunion – I’ll run into someone else with theirs. And even if only for a moment, the pieces will come together again, reminding me that all the things worth taking were with me all along.