I've been thinking a lot lately about memories.
I think it’s probably caused by that senior mindset, a rush of panic and nostalgia triggered by the oncoming thought of everything changing, leaving the nest, leaving my friends, moving on. They’re memories of a past time, my best friend laughing next to me in homeroom class four years ago at something stupid I’d said, or how that teacher's face lit up when they give us back the tests we did really well in. We're all talking about leavers jumpers and prom and yearbook and suddenly I'm reminded that this is it. We're leaving school. We have sixteen days left. I mean we still have study leave and prom and graduation, but we've only got 16 days left really.
If you remember back in August; when I wrote about my very last first day of school, I wrote this:
"I have been through countless first days, and yet that nervous anticipation never leaves. This one in particular carries a poignancy with it. It feels strange to think that this will be largely a year of lasts. I have been school uniform shopping for the last time. I have received my class schedule for the last time. Everything I do this year, will eventually become something I do for the last time, such as handing in homework, or buying a school dinner."
When I close my eyes and think about the years I've spent in school, my head becomes a darkroom of fogged photographs, close enough to make up the shapes but too fuzzy to see the details. It’s a surrealistic reality where the lines between what really happened and how I remember it disappear. I want to capture these moments – to portray them so vividly and accurately that they are more than just words – that they are part of a bigger story, simply a moment in between the bigger occasions of life. I want to capture everything: every feeling, every person, every moment, and how it feels to be alive.
I'm not scared of leaving school, but I am sad to be leaving. I always find it funny how people can say they hated high school, because while there were, of course, times I wasn't happy: I was stressed or failing or friendless, but in the main, I loved school. I loved the uniform, I loved the schedule, I loved my teachers and the things they taught me and my classmates always kept me entertained.
I've learned far more here than anything I could read in a textbook. And I'm talking about much more than how to get free food in the cafeteria. We've found ourselves here. We took classes we hated and found subjects we loved. We've found family here. We've been surrounded by our best friends every day for six years. We've found home here. My point is that for the past six years, we've lived in a little school bubble with people our age, pretty much separate from most other reality and responsibility.
All of that is about to change. And it's sad because we know that the buildings will stay, the teachers will remain, and the classes will resume without us. We know whenever we return, this familiar place won’t feel so familiar anymore. We’ll go to our favourite lunch table and see a new group of stressed teenage girls recounting their blurry nights over bagels. We’ll enter our old homeroom classroom knowing none of the tracking reports in the pile are for us. We’ll walk through the library and see a new student freaking out about their prelims in our spot. We’ll walk down the path we took twice a day for six years, now crowded with unfamiliar faces and we’ll remember the hot bike guy who we'd see on route at 8.30. We’ll come back to this familiar place that won’t feel so familiar anymore. And suddenly, we'll realise that what we've been hearing all along is true: “these are the best six years of your life.” I think that what makes them so great is that eventually: they end.
But I don’t think we really grasp this concept until we’re forced to somehow say goodbye: to the friends that have become our family, the town that has become our home, and the school that has become both. As much as I'd often be reluctant to admit it, high school has made me someone I'm proud to be. I'm proud of the person I grew to become within these walls, and the achievements I've had as a result of being here. The lessons I've learned. Does that make sense?
Maybe I'm just having that realisation that this really is the end. I mean, sixteen days. Only sixteen days left of high school. Sixteen days left in this uniform, in this save haven we've created for ourselves. Sixteen days left to be the person everyone's watched us become, only sixteen days left being seniors. It's crazy that.
top photo credit: evan atwood