A few weeks ago, I dreamt that I was a freshman on move-in day at USC. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much else from the dream besides unpacking my things into a room in Birnkrant Residential College, but the combined feeling of anxiousness and excitement was so vivid that it didn’t feel like a dream at all — for a moment it was like I was 18 years old again. When I finally awoke, I couldn’t shake the emotions from the dream. I carried those feelings of nervous elation for a few days, until I forgot all about it. That is, until now.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that I had this dream. For weeks now, I’ve been dreading this very moment — saying goodbye to “From The Top.” I have a hard time letting things go, and I also hate change. I’m set in my routine and I try not to stray from it. Ever. But there are times when certain life changes will be out of my control. Seeing as I am not continuing with my graduate degree after this semester, I knew I’d be forced to end my column. And that time is now.
I didn’t think this was going to be a big deal, but I literally haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In the last week alone, it has been the only thing on my mind. And seeing as I’ve been thinking about this day in such detail, it can’t not be a big deal. So my initial idea to keep this last column distanced and unemotional was scrapped, because it wouldn’t feel right to end things that way. This is my last chance to say what I need to say, so I’m veering from my usual script to end things as cleanly as possible.
When I first pitched this column years ago, the plan was simple: create a classical music column that was tied to my life as a gay student living in Los Angeles. I wrote about La bohème, I puritani and Lucia di Lammermoor and how they compared to my emotional state or love life. Over the years, things began to stray, and its structure became less rigid and more of a public diary. I began writing on topics both candid and vague. Some were personal, such as the lucid retellings of disastrous dates. Others were detached from myself, like the time and Beyoncé released LEMONADE and I just had to say something about it. I met my boyfriend Matt during the early days of this column, so the primary accounts of my loneliness soon blossomed into sonnets of true love. I didn’t expect to become so attached to “From The Top,” but it was the only constant in my life for a long time. I looked forward to seeing it in print on Tuesdays. It eventually became a lifeline of mine, perhaps to a degree some would deem unhealthy. I just never wanted it to end.
When I “graduated” in 2016, I bid farewell to what I thought would be the end of my career at the Daily Trojan. I took some time away from school to work, but would eventually return a year later to finally finish my degree. Thus began “From The Top: 2.0,” because I felt like I left things unfinished the first time around. When I completed my undergraduate degree later that semester, I thought it was finally over (again), and I would need to say goodbye (again). Until, that is, I got into USC for graduate school. I had yet another chance to finally say what I needed to say, because again, I felt like I had more in me. But with this third time being the charm, I realize that there will always be something more to say. There’s always going to be that feeling of regret — feeling like I wasn’t honest in my writing, or wishing I had talked about a certain topic or concern. In some ways, I feel like the only reason I chose USC for grad school was to continue “From The Top.” But now I’m just starting to feel like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. Frankly, at 26 years old, I’m far too old to keep this going.
As much as I hate letting things go, it’s time to move on.
Before I submitted this final column, I took a long walk around campus. I wanted to get a good look at things before saying goodbye. But as soon as this hits the printers, it’s all over. And I’m OK with that. Have I said all I needed to say? Absolutely not. I don’t think I ever will. But to quote the great BoJack Horseman, “Closure is a made up thing by Steven Spielberg to sell movie tickets. It, like true love and the Munich Olympics, doesn’t exist in the real world. The only thing to do now is just to keep living forward.”
I’m never going to feel satisfied with how I leave this column. But I need to be OK with moving forward. And move forward I will. So thanks for the laughs, and thanks for the cries. It’s been a pleasure.
But maybe I’ll be back some day. Who knows?
Arya Roshanian is a graduate student studying library and information science. His column, “From The Top,” ran Tuesdays.