One year is such an ambivalent stretch of time. Some of the days were short, some have been long, and some I don’t even remember. That’s memory for you. Still, I can see why calendars are circular, and why Yeats might have believed in gyres. There’s something about dates–a certain temporal transparency, as it were. Sometimes when you lay two years over one another, things from the first show through the fabric of the next. Sometimes it’s feelings, sometimes memories. Whether this is a property of the years themselves or of the human mind, I can’t really tell.

Last year I was sitting in Shirey’s class, ready to cap a long day of lectures, go home, loaf out in the sun awhile–maybe check my mail–when he walked in and asked “is everyone you know okay?” That next hour I mostly forget. I just remember chafing at the bit to get out and call home, find Max, find Dee, find Kelly, Gary, Dr. D., Mr. Balci, Matt, Mike, Elena, everyone I’d known for the past thirteen years, truthfully. But I had only just gotten a cell, and I didn’t have many numbers. Then the cell networks went down, so I just checked the news between every class. And all those years of waiting fit into only a few spare days.

The first day I was home last year was the English Department graduation. Charlie and I played for that and Gina sang. I’m glad we did that for Ross and Ryan, although it’s the last thing you want to be doing, whether on such a normally joyous occasion or on any other. Tech has transformed through this tragedy in a way that I never expected to see. Goes to show what 30,000 plus Hokies can do, when the situation demands it. I just wish the spark hadn’t been your lives.

You guys rock, and you always will. We’ll see to that.

Austin,

I miss you. Everyone who knew you even a little does, you know. Nor is it just an occasional thought. You were a bright and wonderful person, and you still are, in all of our hearts and minds. Although we may not be able to do it quite the way you would, we’ll work on the saving-the-world business, like you wanted. Wish us luck. (Some advice would also be appreciated.)

I’ll be out to see you again this summer, probably between orgo classes. Those are the next step towards the goal, I suppose. I’m not a big pink person, especially since most of the flowers now are dyed, but I think snapdragons will be in season down at the farmer’s market. How does that sound?

Please pass my fondness on to your excellent company.

-R.A.

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