Almost four years ago I drove to Shenandoah University in Winchester with my cousin Jack. It was around midnight. We parked and walked around and smoked cigarettes. Eventually we met some freshmen who had been at school for just one week. Months before they were still in high school. We started talking to them, and they were really friendly and invited us to sit down. They were excited to find out I was twenty-three and asked me to buy them beer for a party they wanted to have that weekend.

(I never ended up doing that. Honestly I wish I had.)

Anyway: I went back to Shenandoah University tonight for absolutely no reason. I just wanted to walk around and look at some stuff and maybe find some people to talk to. But as soon as I got to the campus I remembered that it’s May, and everyone has either graduated or gone home for the summer.

The people I met that night probably graduated a few days ago. They are gone forever.

I got sad thinking about that. I was walking around the deserted campus with my hands in my pockets feeling like a real jerk. And here is how I know something is truly wrong with me: In the back of my brain I held out hope that maybe if I walked back to the place where I had been with Jack all those years ago, my old friends would still be there—frozen in time until I reawakened them!

Of course all I found were a few empty lawn chairs where we had all sat and talked and smoked cigarettes, back when things were easier—or at least back when my awareness of the difficulty of being alive was greatly dulled from stupidity and apathy.