Bringing Sexy Mac! Farewell to a Beloved Community

As a first year, I had been invited to a pre-orientation retreat with the Bonner Scholars Program, a civic service engagement that I would spend the next four years a part of. I waited months to meet my cohort, but then heavy rain cancelled my initial flight. The 24-hour delay meant I missed the ride out to the retreat center: I would only make the second half of the scheduled programming and I would be left all alone at Macalester for days until they got back. I slumped around the then-empty campus waiting for the other Bonners to return, absolutely certain I would feel excluded from the group once they did.

I expected to be greeted in some way when I finally met them, but not with a chorus of cheers and definitely not with my peers running to me and collapsing their arms around me in hugs. Then, they were strangers, yet not strangers, to me. I was community, yet not community, to them. But even at this moment of not knowing, we found each other in such kindness.

Since that first welcome, I have been held many more times with such care, affection and affirmation. For all I have gained, I utterly appreciate Macalester and am thankful I will stand on that graduation stage in two weeks and a day. But I am also a survivor of many brutalities experienced before and after I got here. As such, I cannot deny the fact that my love for this community includes the potential and actuality of violence.

Ambivalence between celebration and hurt and articulation, learning and solidarity and violence, growth and stasis and disappointment marks so much of my learning at Macalester. I refuse to create a strict binary between any of these experiences, however, because their unexpected unions create my heart’s depth and compassion. I locate pain within joy and joy within pain because I view this process as a critical, pragmatic, radical engagement with all I consider beloved. I draw into beloved community within the resonances of our histories in their tragedies, triumphs and empathies.

Everything — every moment, every story, every victory and loss — sincerely and intimately known between trusted friends, allows us greater access to our axes of embodied knowledges. Through our ambivalences about the experiences lived outside the binaries of emotion, we have raged and fought and mourned and cried and lived, laughed and loved. In all honesty, it dizzies me to know that what I have felt has, can and will be felt in so many others for reasons as similar and dissimilar to my own as logic could allow. Our (dis)unions, however, allow both for a more tender engagement with pasts not clouded with nostalgia, and for more loving tomorrows in the communities to which we hold ourselves responsible.

I am thrown into ambivalence once again as senior with graduation pressed to the forefront of my mind. I at once grasp onto my beloveds, love them, remember what they have given me, honor what I have given them and say farewell with as much . To mitigate these sentimentalities for myself, I find myself again and again taking a step back to reflect and indulge in the thrill of potential and change and interruption thrumming through me. It is truly a kindness to pause over my communities and find closures for the ways I know my communities right now.

The care I have received does not, and cannot, go unnoticed because your presence in my life has deeply changed me. When I walk across that stage in a few short weeks, I will do so with my heart heavy with the love I have for and have felt from all I hold as beloved. To that moment I will bring with me “Bringing Sexy Mac.” I realized so much of my potential through this column, and I am who and how I am today due to having a platform of such intense reflection. So thank you for this space where I have reflected and indulged and shocked myself into revelation.

And thank you for your readership and also for your attention, your support, your friendship, your mentorship, your challenges, your restlessness, your invitations, your laughs, your activism, your trust, your contributions to discussions, your Thursdays, your everydays, your everything-that-brought-you-to-here’s…

Thank you for you. Thank you for me. Thank you for us.

Thank you, always, for your love.