One of my favorite movies is Roman Holiday, a 1953 Hollywood film starring Audrey Hepburn Gregory Peck in the lead role. Hepburn plays a discontent European princess Ann who scurries off into the labyrinthine city of Rome by herself. Amidst her prince-and-pauper like escapade, she runs into a stoic journalist Joe Bradley (played by Peck). Quarrelsome at first, the two start budding feelings towards each other as they roam through the streets of Rome (ba-dum-tss) on a way-too-small moped without helmets. All good things must come to an end, and so do their unlikely rendezvous; Ann reluctantly returns to her royal throne, and Joe looks at Ann – or the forlorn vacancy of the throne where Ann once sat in – one last time before smiling and walking away from the scene (words don’t do justice to the poignancy of this last scene. Just look up “Roman Holiday ending” on Youtube).
As I approach the last couple months of my time at Amherst, I find myself empathizing with Joe more and more. The past four years of college have come and gone too fast for me to sit and process exactly what happened. The only true witness to the changes I have undergone in those past four years is myself. But how reliable can I be as a witness when, as I witness things about myself that have changed, I’m simultaneously going through other changes that I am not aware of? I’ve written about this trope many many times in my previous blog posts, but I’m always drawn back to the relentlessness of time and the helplessness of us all when we have to face it.
One thing that’s becoming clearer as I near the end of my four-year stay in this middle-of-nowhere Western mass town is just how fragile human relationships are. Today I can be friends with you, but tomorrow we might be enemies. Somebody that I cared about so deeply could become just one more stranger in the sea of people I encounter every day. You figure after four years of mixing and mingling and partying you would get to know people here pretty decently well, but looking back on the four years, I’m sometimes not even sure which path I even walked on.
Or was I walking in the same place all along?