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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

The sentences I’ll never forget

In seemingly trivial exchanges, some words are etched into my mind and stick around for far longer than their speaker would ever expect. It’s more than just memorable milestones. It’s different from the way you’ll remember the words of a stinging insult behind your back getting back to you, or the first time you and a romantic partner said “love.” It’s about the delivery, the context, the happy accident of all the elements of the conversation that bring you some kind of relief or clarity or anticipation.

These sentences have a whole world inside of them and spark moments of electrifying contact with another person’s depths. 

Everyone has them. These are four of mine.  

“Go show the world.”

I waited forever for high school graduation. On the day of the ceremony, I was handed my diploma and walked across the stage to greet members of administration. When it was time to shake hands with one particular figure who had been an integral part of my four years, I decided to give him a hug instead. The short, firm, embrace was concluded with a nod and a smile — “go show the world.”

My eyes teared up and I didn’t stop crying until I walked out of the ceremony. It was after years of his name commanding immediate order in classrooms and hallways, hours spent in his office discussing strategies and ideas for the student council and more hours spent getting in trouble in the same office for laughable acts of rebellion. Not all great hours, but hours that I know in retrospect were his dedication as a teacher to student, to my growing-up, my learning curve. 

“Spilled water might as well be celebrated.”

On a night out with some friends in a small bar back home, I was having a grand time celebrating the end of a semester and a month away from South Bend and deadlines. A little carefree and very much clumsy, I managed to knock over a whole bottle of water onto the bar. 

When someone tapped me on the shoulder to update me on this catastrophe I had inflicted, I was struck with embarrassment and tore through a dozen napkins to clean it up. He turned out to be one of the managers and offered us a toast, since spilled water is something that “might as well be celebrated.” The champagne was ice cold and sweet, and we made both a friend and a go-to pregame place that night. 

“Karma gets you the aisle seat.”

Last summer, in the peak of Europe’s historic heat stroke, my friend and I decided to board the Amsterdam tour cruise. It was more of me twisting his arm because I knew the boat would be air conditioned, and I adore the sunsets over the canals more than anything. 

After half an hour of waiting in the sweltering heat to board the boat, a man decided to skip us in line. Our agitated confrontation came to no fruition, and he snarkily and hastily rushed onto the boat. In a twist of fate, we ended up getting our seats upgraded to the large table with a stunning window view outside. He was asked by the staff to give up his seat to an elderly woman and sat in an aisle seat, far away from any kind of view. 

As the safety announcements began, my friend turned and added a protocol to the list — “karma gets you the aisle seat.” I couldn’t hold in my laughter. 

“Get a grip, girl.”

In an episode of unnecessary theatrics, I was crying on the floor of a friend’s dorm — over a grade, over a boy, over spilled water perhaps. I wailed over how unfair it all was, and how come I’m always so unlucky? 

She joined me on the floor, cross-legged on her fluffy pink rug, and snapped me into reality. I really did need to “get a grip.” My melodrama evaporated, at least for the night, we put on a rom-com on TV and I counted all the ways in which I was in fact, absolutely lucky. 

Reyna Lim is a sophomore double majoring in finance and English. She enjoys writing about her unsolicited opinions, assessing celebrity homes in Architectural Digest videos and collecting lip gloss. Reach out with coffee bean recommendations and ‘80s playlists at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.