My mom was always running late to things when I was growing up, and to make up for lost time, my dad would often speed down the highway — especially Sunday mornings on our way to church.
I’ve had my fair share of cutting it close. And while I’ve been met with academic and personal grace periods, a recent denied request for an assignment extension put things into perspective.
“Juggling competing deadlines is just one of those skills you need to master.”
I suppose you’re right, professor. But I can only stretch my remaining days so far — it’s finally settling in that I have nine days left in Berkeley.
Day nine, it seems, will comprise reflecting on the time I’ve spent throughout the past three years.
The 2020-21 academic year can be summed up briefly. I moved to Berkeley in fall 2020, not knowing anyone, and lived in off-campus co-operative housing where I met friends I still occasionally grab dinner with. That following summer, I moved into another co-op. Jobless and not taking any classes throughout summer 2021, I started my afternoons with runs across campus and ended my evenings with house dinners, drinks and a smoke.
Contrarily, 2021-22 met me with an overwhelming amount of people — some who I’ll probably see daily until I officially move out of Berkeley, many who I’ll see and wave to in passing and one who I wish I could see again.
In hindsight, March 2022 was the time in the semester that would dictate the following year. I took a road trip down the California coast with colleagues who would eventually turn into close friends. Despite the fever and nearly broken ankle I got during that trip, I’d do it all over again. I still see those friends, and we still argue about who in the group would be who in the Spiderman trio. March 2022 was also the month I requested and was approved for an Expected Graduation Term Change.
I had more time.
But shortly after that, I planned to spend the summer in New Jersey and the fall in Washington, D.C. I had more time I suppose, but half of the year would be spent away from Berkeley, away from the people and things that I subconsciously wanted to stay longer for. The New Jersey summer and the chilling breeze that would mark the end of my time in D.C. left me with lasting memories of people I probably won’t see again. But that’s a story for another time.
I finally moved back to Berkeley at the start of January, ready to close out my final semester of undergrad and reconnect with the friends I’d been away from for months. During my time away from Berkeley, I seemed to want nothing more than to come back. Though my summer and fall were a blend of rushed assignments and late-night drinks with friends — not that much different than being at Berkeley, for that matter — I couldn’t help but count down the days until I’d find myself walking down Telegraph Avenue again.
Three more months. Two months left. One month until. And now, nine final days.
It’s bittersweet. But I’m somewhat satisfied with the way my last semester has turned out. I moved, yet again, into an apartment with an official roommate and an unofficial housemate who has marked our living room couch as practically hers — she doesn’t pay rent despite being with us five days out of the week, but I suppose she gets a pass considering she’ll end up in Minnesota one day. I got to (momentarily) reconnect with old friends since moving back, and I’ll undoubtedly have to find time to re-reconnect with them after moving out for good.
March 2023 was no different than that of last year. It, too, seemed like the month that would dictate the next two years of my life. I got into grad school (woohoo!) and, yet, I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice deciding to leave the place I’ve grown fond of. I’ve spent the last three years here finding some way to constantly be on the move — whether it be moving between co-ops or out of the state for a few months — and it has, consequently, left me with detached relationships with others. The solution seems simple: Just renew the fucking lease.
But as of March, I’ve signed a new lease, one that’ll take me to Pittsburgh for the first year and D.C. for the second. I feel grateful, but I can’t help but also feel a sense of impending doom realizing that, in one way or another, I’m slowly running out of time. I guess you can say these last nine days feel like an extension of my childhood Sunday mornings.
I’m not entirely sure what the next eight will look like, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to make the most of it. I’ve often told my friends that we don’t owe anyone anything other than kindness. I think it’s fair to say I owe it to myself to make sure I don’t leave Berkeley again counting down the time before I’m back; regardless, I know that’s no longer an option.
To the people I’ll meet in the next two years: As of now, it’s only a matter of time before I look for a way out. To the people I’ve met during my time in Berkeley:
Until next time.
Bryan Hernandez Benitez was a 2022-2023 deputy Weekender editor. He joined The Daily Californian in fall 2020 as a copy editor and served as opinion copy chief spring 2021 and summer 2021. He worked as a deputy night editor in fall 2021 before becoming deputy opinion editor spring 2022. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in city & regional planning.