This was the last column I ever wrote for UVA's University Journal, a few weeks before my college graduation.

Belonging Again

Monday, May 1, 1995

I never wanted to go to the University of Virginia; I always wanted to go to Yale. I applied to Yale, as well as to Harvard, Brown, Amherst, Stanford and U.Va. U.Va. was at the bottom of my list. Yale deferred me in November and then rejected me in April; Harvard rejected me outright; Brown, Amherst and Stanford wait-listed me and then subsequently rejected me like the rest. I never had to make a decision; the only choice was the University of Virginia.

When I first arrived in the fall of 1991, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt completely out of place. First of all, I had just come back to the United States after living overseas for three years; second, even though I was back in the U.S., I was from out of state; and third, I was somewhat shy. I was in an unfamiliar environment, I was without my parents and I had less than the average amount of self-esteem. I worried about whether or not I would make it through even the first month alive.

What a difference four years can make. Now, I perform in three singing groups, I have close friends and two nicknames, I know myself better, and ten thousand people read what I write in the paper. August 1991 seems like eons ago, although in some ways it's nothing but a blur.

I began writing for the University Journal about a year and a half ago, in the middle of my third year. I had written for my high school paper, but when I came to U.Va., I abandoned that hobby for others. In November 1993, however, I became angry about a construction project on Grounds and wanted to vent my anger. To be honest, the only reason I chose to write for the University Journal is because at the time, the UJ printed its writers' names in larger print.

I wrote editorials on various subjects, venting my anger at this organization and that construction project, relishing the sight of my name in print. I enjoyed putting my foot down, although occasionally I missed, and it went into my mouth instead. Angering people every once in a while was not so bad, however.

Every so often someone would write a letter to the UJ, contesting a point I had made in an article, but nobody tried to shoot me. I enjoyed the whole job.

Last summer, however, I had a change of heart. I grew tired of venting and complaining; it didn't seem as if editorials changed anything, anyway. Therefore, this fall, I moved from the editorial page to the features page, and I began writing more personal articles. I wrote about the beginning of fall; I wrote about studying in Clemons Library; I wrote about not knowing what I would do after graduation (I still don't); I wrote about getting colds; I wrote about how I could never get a date. I even wrote poetry.

I am an emotional exhibitionist. I have a strange desire to tell people how I feel. Every few weeks I give ten thousand readers my deepest thoughts. I often tell my friends how I feel as well, sometimes too much. Also, sometimes I go overboard with e-mail, giving my friends more soliloquies than they would like to hear. It sometimes gets on their nerves, but I can't seem to stop. I enjoy it too much. Perhaps it's an addiction.

I don't like telling people how to think; instead, I prefer telling them how I feel. I do that in the hope that something I write will touch a chord. I want people to read what I write and discover my humanity, but I want them to see their own as well. We are all connected. Yet, at the same time, we will all leave this school with nothing but ourselves.

Last September, hours after Tom Deluca had hypnotized his victims, I sat in the Amphitheatre with some friends and looked up at the night sky. It was a cool late summer evening, almost fall. So much lay ahead. It was the start of my last year at U.Va., and I decided then that I would enjoy every moment as much as I could.

A tragedy of life, however, is that no matter how much one tries to enjoy something, it always comes to an end. Time is intangible, and you can't stop something you can't even touch. All that once lay ahead is now almost entirely behind me; not just this year, but my whole college experience. Over. Finished. Never to be repeated. It is hard to comprehend, and it has not fully hit me yet. I wish it never would.

It has been a long four years, and certain people have meant a great deal to me - they have made me feel like I belong. I want to thank them. I also want them to see their names in print.

To Eric M.: Thank you for listening to me rant these past two years. Gettysburg was a blast; we could have made it to Ohio, too. And to the rest of the gang in Long, thanks for making my living experience very wacky. No other combination of people could be as strange, as cool, or as just plain funny as you all are.

To the Prison people: Thanks for making e-mail fun. Colleen and Nicole, thank you for always being there.

To Wynne K.: Much has changed in four years, but much has not. It's been a long time, hasn't it? Thank you for everything.

To Matt S.: Sorry, Matt, I wish I could find the words. Some friendships just defy them. I predict great things for you.

To the men of the Virginia Glee Club: You guys have changed my life. John L., you have been a valuable mentor and more. Jon F., thank you for always caring. And Chris B., you have been the perfect roommate and a true friend. Our late-night talks have meant a lot to me.

Finally, to my fellow Academical Village People: There's not much to say that I haven't said already. I thank God for the opportunity to have sung with you guys; I would give anything to do it all over again. It's been magical. I'll miss every one of you; you made my dream come true.

To the rest of you, thank you for putting up wth some final emotional exhibitionism. I'll close my raincoat now. If you want more, look me up in your Corks & Curls. For now, just remember this: no matter how you feel, good or bad, someone else feels the same. There is always a shoulder to lean upon, or even to cry upon. Nobody is alone.

So now it is almost May 1995, and despite my early predictions, I've made it. University of Virginia, you were last on my list, but now you are number one. From now on, whenever I sing the Good Old Song, I will know that I have come home. After all, this place is much nicer than New Haven.

Wahoowa, thanks, and take care.