Things change. People come and go; life has ups and downs — and wishing it was different won’t stop it from being true.
C. S. Lewis said in a letter to his good friend Owen Barfield that “an awful symptom is that part of oneself still regards troubles as ‘interruptions’ – as if (ludicrous idea) the happy bustle of our personal interests was our real [lives], instead of the opposite.”
This has been the struggle of my time at APU: remembering the good moments before the COVID-19 pandemic complicated everything and then remembering everything else that came after as somehow less than what once was. It’s as if my life stopped once the pandemic started and has yet to begin again
So, this is a way to remember all of the moments — the times and memories from before and after and exactly how being specifically at APU, and nowhere else, shaped my experiences.
Fall 2018: Before
I wouldn’t normally choose to wake up every Friday morning at 7 a.m.
And most people would call a freshman, first-semester college student crazy for choosing not only to take an 8 a.m. class but an 8 a.m. hiking class.
However, when I look back and remember that time, it is with the feeling that it was one of my favorite times during my freshman year. Taking a hiking elective class meant that I would go every Friday morning to walk all over the different trails in the Glendora Mountains only a few miles away from campus. At first, I was pretty sure I had made a terrible decision having to get up that early and exercise. But, as the weeks went by, it became a sort of ritual that I looked forward to. I would anticipate the crisp air and the fresh smell of nature in the morning. It would usually be cooler out even on warm days, and I loved the feeling of starting my day before the rest of the world had really woken up.
One of the best things about that class is now being able to remember all those places that my professor took the class and being able to take my friends there. That has become one of the defining factors that I have realized about my memories at APU: so often, they can be shared and benefit others over and over again.
Fall 2021: After
I hadn’t been to a pumpkin patch in years — not since I was a little kid.
My IT office at APU decided to take a field trip and visit the Pomona Pumpkin patch. I was just expecting to walk around and then maybe pick out a pumpkin. However, we ended up doing everything: hayrides, getting lost in the corn maze, taking pictures in the sunflower field and eating candied almonds and honey sticks. We did end up picking pumpkins, like I expected, and then named them and raced them by rolling them down a slope.
I got to understand the people I worked with so much more than just seeing them in the office. At a time in my life at college where I was struggling to find community again after transitioning to being a commuter, my office gave me that sense of belonging that is so unique at APU. Every day, I could walk into the office for work, and they would be happy to see me. It was a place I could spend time with people who knew me on campus and wanted to know how my life was going.
Our field trip to the pumpkin patch made that feeling even better and was a time I felt most at home at APU.
Winter 2019: Before
Organized chaos is really the only way to describe it. About two weeks before the end of the semester, the entire music department was in high gear preparing for the Celebrate Christmas program. Both of the years I participated in this amazing experience, it left me feeling things I had never felt before.
The long practice hours brought a sense of solidarity, and we would all laugh and talk even though we were exhausted. In the end, of course, it was all worth it. As I would sneak glances out into the audience during each program, I would see the awe and wonder on their faces and the joy and laughter that moved them to a standing ovation on the last song. Being part of the orchestra gave me this unique view, and it was a window into the influence that those long practices and tired hours had on those people. I had never seen music matter as much as it did those nights until I came to APU and had the opportunity to be in a production that large. I did not consider how much it could touch others even if I felt like just another musician in a crowd. We all made a difference by showing up and putting in the time and effort to put together something worth being amazed by.
Even though those programs have stopped for a while, it is one of the things I really hope they bring back to APU because the times I spent doing Celebrate Christmas were some of my favorites.
Spring 2022: After
I thought I knew the Duke building backward and forward by my senior year, but it took me a little while to find the theology wing and the room that my last Honors College colloquy was supposed to be held in. Although, now, looking back, I realize that we only really had class there about half of the semester. The rest of the time my kind professor indulged our request to go out in the sunshine for our class.
While we discussed and debated different wisdom literature from the Bible to Daoism, I realized how much I was going to miss it all. The Honors College had been the one constant in my somewhat rocky college career. From switching my major sophomore year to taking a leave of absence, I struggled upon my return to find normality in my routines. Coming to my wisdom colloquy twice a week really gave that to me.
I loved sitting down next to people I had met four years ago and talking about topics that we had touched on our very first semester in freshman year. One of the biggest reasons I chose APU was because of the Honors College, so this is one of the memories that I know I would never have made anywhere else. Learning and growing together with a group of people who were also just as eager to learn and grow was a powerful thing, and these memories of my wisdom colloquy class bring back all the joy and fulfillment that I experienced throughout my time in the Honors College.
These are only a few memories, but I recorded them specifically because of their timing. As I thought about these moments, so many more arose that I had not thought about in a long time, both from before and after the pandemic.
We can get lost sometimes feeling like our lives are on hold during difficult times. However, that is the exact opposite of reality. The good and the bad moments make up our lives, and if we ignore the bad ones as if they didn’t count, we are missing half of our lives. My college experience is what it is; I can’t change it, and I’ve realized I really wouldn’t want to even if I could.