Every year of college, a group of my friends would travel up to sleepy, quiet Hilton Head for a few days. The trip was always a celebration of the end of another school year, an official welcome to summer, and a few days of togetherness before we all parted ways for a few months.
That last time, however, was a celebration of quite simply being done. I was done with school, done with responsibilities for the foreseeable future, done worrying. I was so happy, and I spent those early summer days reading books, sitting on the beach for what was probably too many consecutive hours without reapplying sunscreen, riding bikes barefoot for miles and miles up and down the island, and exploring hidden trails and tributaries.
Admittedly, my best friend and I wandered away from the group for a large portion of that trip; we share an inherent need to explore, and while the rest of the girls wanted to wake up at 10:30 and eventually make their way down to the beach after lunch, we had things to see. We biked up and down the coast, as far as we could before running out of land, blasting music from our phones and stopping to climb trees, look for hermit crabs, and buy the occasional gelato. We lost track of time, got sunburnt, and cackled when we lost our balance and fell off our bikes. Essentially, we acted like giant children, and it was beautiful.
Takeaway: That trip to Hilton Head perfectly marked the beginning of a year of simply doing what I wanted to, regardless of what the rest of the group was doing or the mistakes I made as I tried. It was the best way to tie up my time in college, to say goodbye to some of my favorite memories, and to create a memory that bridged the end with this big, blank beginning. Externally, that last trip to Hilton Head looked identical to the other three, but it ended up meaning so much more.