The end always comes unexpectedly. No matter how long you aim for it, push to get there, wish to be done, it’s always a surprise when you cross the finish line.

The end of the term always used to do this to me. I would study and study, kill myself working, and just when I got up to full speed, finals slipped by and suddenly there was nothing. There’s a moment of freefall, a moment where your brain hasn’t caught up with the rest of you. It’s such a rush to have finished, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet that you’re done.

I (successfully) defended my thesis on Tuesday. The papers are signed, and the only thing left to do is to pass in the final version. We’re going to try to slip in some very last-minute results (the ones that I’m going to take next week), but it’s done. Over. The endlessness of graduate school is suddenly gone, and somehow that’s a surprise.

Yesterday, I taught the last class that I will teach at UW Bothell. My first year teaching experience is finished, except for grading finals and some meetings on Monday.

Today, the movers came and cleaned out the lab, packing all of the samples and lab books and instruments into a truck to carry them to my adviser’s new university across the country. I cleaned out the desk that I’ve inhabited for 5 years, and began to say goodbye to people.

And it hit me that it’s over.

Not soon. Not “maybe someday.” Now.

Tomorrow, I will pick up my student’s final papers and grade them by Monday.

On Tuesday, I will fly to France for a few days and finish one more experiment. When I return, we will stuff as much as we can into the thesis before passing it in at the end of the month.

While I’m gone, Branden will start packing our house. At the end of the month, we’ll drive all of our belongings to Madison, and put them in storage. Then, we’ll get on a plane with our cats, and move to Bretten, Germany. Branden’s company is sending him to their European office for 6 months, so I’ll be delaying my postdoc by a bit, and probably coming back stateside in December. He got the final offer letter today.

It feels good to be closer to done. I am excited about the things that are coming. And, right now, I’m just a little stunned that it’s all wrapping up so fast.

Endings are like that, I guess.