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The last days


Amy Chen“There is a time for departure, even when there’s no certain place to go.”

— Tennessee Williams

Unlike most of my friends, who have started or are going to start college this August, I head off to sunny California in mid-September. I’ve been practicing my goodbyes the past few weeks, meeting with friend after friend before they leave for school. I suppose I should say goodbye to you, too. This is my final column.

While looking back at past columns, however, I realized that Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” has instilled a fear of running out of time in me. In June, I already said goodbye with my column, “Well, here we are.” In April, I thanked those who have helped me get to where I am with “You didn’t build that: a reminder.” And, in January, I addressed nostalgic regret with “Grocery shopping and other ways we cope: a new resolution.”

I’ve slowly been saying goodbye since the year started.

Regardless, I’d like to take a moment and thank you, dear reader, for your support. I’d also like to thank Jillian Daley, The Review’s education reporter — and editor of student columns — for the encouragement and aid she’s provided me and my fellow columnists. She’s been amazing.

Dear Reader, I can’t meet with you before I say goodbye. I can’t tell you we’ll keep in touch, or that I’ll come back to visit. I can’t hug you and wave as I back out of your driveway. We can’t celebrate our “last days” together.

By “last days,” I’m talking about the days of senior summer. They taste bittersweet — perhaps because I’ve been treating them as if they truly are the last.

I can feel myself getting too sentimental to write a proper column. I’m excited for school, but not as much as I am anxious about leaving home. Recently, a close friend has had to repeatedly remind me that, “It’s not like we’re never going to see each other again.” Due to personal issues, however, I’ve been feeling uneasy: I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be leaving Lake Oswego or when I’ll be back.

In response, I’ve panicked — “What if we never see each other again?” — and did what needed to be done: I had fun.

I’ve been revisiting the parts of Portland I wish I could bring to college with me — Powell’s City of Books, Coffeehouse Northwest (home to the best hot chocolate the world has ever known), Good Taste Restaurant (in Chinatown) — with the people I wish I could bring with me, too.

I’m still here for a little while longer. I want to hike the falls and fly kites on the beach and roller skate at Oaks Amusement Park. I want to listen to endless concerts on lawns and feed ducks on the lake and watch sunny skies turn into twinkling stars. I want to drink out of pink-elephant water bottles while marveling at animals at the zoo; to dance amid petals in the rose garden and sip tea right next door; to buy a bag full of books at the Booktique for the same price as a cup of coffee; and to browse Lake Music as I wait for my teriyaki just next door.

Dear Reader, we can’t share our last days together. But if you ever want a taste of my last days, pretend you’re about to leave and that you don’t know if and when you’ll come back. Do anything and everything you can with the time you have. Ignore the bitterness, and focus on the sweet.

Dear Reader, take advantage of our piece of Oregon while I’m gone. There’s no place like home.

Amy Chen graduated from Lake Oswego High School in June, and she wrote a monthly column for the Review in the 2013-14 school year and this summer. This fall, she will attend Stanford University. She will be missed.