It's not the last day that hits the hardest. It's the day before that, when the thought of that last day starts to form in the mind, conjuring wispy shadows of the shoulds and musts which would have to take shape in the next expected cycle of light and dark.
I've been struggling with all this since last night. Past midnight already, and I found myself staring at the ceiling, trying my best (and failing in the process) to empty my mind of all that should remain in the future. Now, here I am, stuck in the same albeit slightly graver predicament, grasping in hand what is hopefully a more concrete version of the things that should come.
If it's any consolation for pragmatism, I never mean to drag this palette of mixed emotions back to my canvass every single time. It's the colors that come looking for me, or less pretentiously, I who get drawn to the colors, like a sailor who unwittingly follows the deathly call of the siren. Only, in time, the colors wash off, and I'm again this mundane, black-and-white figure as nature intended, neither wrecked nor slain by the mythical temptress.
Maybe it's that unspoken need to escape the humdrum of earthly banality that's at work. Or, more likely (and therefore, less melodramatically), it's the fact that one never really knows what the final day will be like until it comes. More so with the day of departure. I'm probably waxing melancholic at the moment, but departures always need some preparation, and part of the preparation is anticipating and overcoming the eventual melancholy.
In many ways, nostalgic may even be a better description of the state I'm currently in. Looking back, the past three weeks have been one fantastic train ride across town, a road trip encompassing multitudes of friendships and endless troves of memories once more unearthed. Faces again converged in front of mine, betraying years of experiences and deep-seated relationships. The ride was as scenic and colorful as I had envisioned it to be almost a month ago.
I need to sleep. Perhaps this is the only way to finally douse the fires of fresh memories seemingly burning to no end within me. It's high time as well I attempt to reverse my body clock, though this would definitely be a futile one, an aimless effort to return to a lifestyle that now seems so distant. Dreaming may well be the solution, unreal as it is.
P.S. The Rule of Four is indeed a magnificent read. It's the kind of novel that sucks the reader in, drawing him to the lives of its fully developed characters, leading him to somehow doubt in the end the fiction in the very hearts of the people he'd supposedly just brushed arms with. I am, as one has seen, dripping with the aftertaste that the book leaves the reader.
Princeton University's Ivy Club, where the climax of The Rule of Four is set.