To return for the final time to this bench can only be described as bittersweet. As my thoughts outside of poetry and science and their intersection wander toward graduation and the entrance of many of my friends into the real world—their exiting from the world we have shared for so long—I begin to think of this meeting as my own graduation.A graduation from the cold marble and darkness of the stairs, a graduation from the pink flowers that bleed into the green stems and the stone beneath my feet and a graduation from the emotional mindset that this bench serves to foster within me.
Graduations are not always a sad thing, to some degree they are the start of something new, and a celebration of the time spent there. This bench has taken on a new meaning throughout my time sitting on it, from a safe haven away from my own thoughts to now a place where I have sat and thought and overthought the wind the breeze, how the particles in air bounce off of each other while they blow past my face…
But what is this place really? It is just a bench in Providence, Rhode Island that I have selfishly allowed myself to believe is my own and only my own to exist in. Countless other pairs of denim jeans have sat exactly where mine have—I do wonder what sorts of threads and germs and hairs would come up if the surface of this bench were to be analyzed, but that would probably render the area too “gross” to ever return to.
Do I like this place because it feels clean?
I like this place because it is mine, and it is peaceful. That is why today was so horrid.
Yes, I am annoyed because a person sat next to me on the bench. I was actually so turned off from the experience that I was unable to return again. This was my graduation, my end. This was my final memory there. A human placing themselves within my orb and my safety net, but not contributing. As they approached, my heart raced hoping they would hear it, worry for a stampede approaching and turn away and leave but they didn’t—hearts are contained in the chest and the chest is one of the best barriers to sound.
As I sat I waited for them to ask something of me, to light a cigarette and blow particles against the breeze and force of the wind, forcing the hand of the way in which I breathed and interacted with the space around me. I nearly wanted them to pick a flower, to have their backpack tip due to the gravity of the knowledge in the books, attempting to return to the earth and in the process hitting a bush and causing the leaves to rustle and fall to the ground—I wanted destruction.
But why? Why did I want their presence to add chaos to my own experience? I think it was the mere fact that someone else could be happy or peaceful in my own place was jarring and stirred jealousy within me. I felt displaced, I felt awkward, I felt that this person was watching my movements and mirroring them (how odd, considering we were both just sitting on a bench staring straight ahead).
So I left. And that was that. And that was my graduation, my moving forward from a bench in Providence that merited no graduation but yet I had one, and as the alma mater rang through my ears and the space between, I walked again up college hill. Because there were things up there that needed attention and appreciation before they graduated too.