On Saturday morning I got up to take video of the Tar Heel 10 Miler. I’m working on a package about the sweetest family who races for their daughter who is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy. My friends thought I was crazy considering we stayed up way too late the night before, but it didn’t bother too much. I figured I would shoot some video for about a half hour then hop back in to bed.
I leaned over the barrier trying to get the best shot I could of them as they took off from the start line. A few more shots and I felt like I had everything I needed. As I turned to walk back through campus to meet the runners on Franklin Street, the Bell Tower started to play “Hark The Sound,” and I lost it.
I’m talking big elephant tears, ugly cry as I walked up the quad past Dey Hall. The emotion sprang out of me without any warning, and honestly took me by surprise. I let myself have a little cry (I’m a big supporter of allowing yourself to feel your emotions), but I was confused about why all of a sudden I was getting sad.
Just like that countdown clock above the start line, ticking away the seconds before their race started, I could feel my countdown clock start to tick. We have less than a month before we have to leave UNC, and I have no clue how to say goodbye.
No more basketball games. No more rushing Franklin Street.
Tick, tick, tick.
No more meals at Pi Phi that turn in to hours of talking and laughing with friends.
Tick, tick, tick.
No more Carolina Week and feeling the excitement and pride that come with putting together a great show.
The race is exciting, don’t get me wrong. Just like those runners we’ve been training for this race for so long. Some of us have been training our whole lives. Others might not realize their passion for running until mile two or three. Either way, our clock is about to run out, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
So how do you say goodbye to a place that has given you so much? You don’t. You truly can’t.
You can’t say goodbye to home. Just like home, the feeling and pride that come with being a student at Carolina come with you everywhere you go. The smells, the sounds, the feelings, the people…it stays with you.
All four years here and I wondered what it would feel like to leave. Now, I can’t stand the thought of it. That’s a good thing, right? It means we haven’t overstayed our welcome. We’ve had our fun, and made our memories. Now it’s time to bring the people that Carolina wanted us to be, told us we could be, and molded us to be in to the world.
We can say goodbye for now, but Carolina will always be home.