Music rings, emanating from the tent in the corner. Pop songs from the 80's fill the air merging with the purple-pink bubbles that float for an instant before being popped enthusiastically. Laughter abounds mingling with the snippets of conversations that can be heard.
"Remember that time..."
"I wish I had..."
I sit in the corner, my camera poised, taking it all in. I watch as the smoke filled bubbles scatter, exploding in puffs at the slightest touch, and as the glitter balloons are passed from one person to another, never touching the ground, until, all at once, they pop scattering the shards of golden light around the room and all over the already glittered gathering.
We're here to celebrate, and the atmosphere is perfect. Booze line one table, snacks another, and wherever you look there are people talking, laughing, enjoying each others company and reminiscing about the time spent together before the year draws to an end. One last hurrah before the flurry of exams and packing to spread across the country and the world. The final goodbye to the town that seems to be a halfway house somewhere in between high school and where your real life begins. The jol is over, the schlep must start - finding a job, keeping it, paying rent, taking responsibility.
But just for one day, there is no need to think about the joys that adulthood holds. Today, we are not worrying about what is to come, but remembering what has been, basking in the friendships that we cherish, recalling the mistakes that we have made fondly, knowing that they are small when compared to the happiness that we have found in this little place that we have called home for the last 3, 4 or 5 years.
And, at the end of it all, we leave with a tear in our eye, knowing that things must change, that people must come and go from this place in what feels like a heartbeat, but always holding that special place for the years spent at Rhodes and in Grahamstown.
To the friends that have left, know that I think of you always. To the friends that are leaving, know that you will be missed. And to the friends that are staying, I look forward to the memories that have yet to be made.