Now and then I find myself lost somewhere between my "World Literature" and "I cant sleep: Poetry" folders in search for some of my old writing. The same holds true when I clean my room. Organizing my desk and removing junk from the bottom of my bed doesn't actually take 5 hours; It's the discovery of bittersweet memorabilia and distant recollections of the past, hidden beside empty water bottles, dusty yearbooks and dried up graduation leis that postpones productivity. Tonight I looked back on a short essay I wrote the summer before college. If you haven't already figured out, I'm a very sentimental person and home to the "sign my yearbook", "goes to everyone's senior night" and "makes a mixtape of all the songs played during prom" squad. Looking back, things weren't as serious as I thought they were during the time. I love how this short essay I wrote knew exactly how irrelevant and unnecessary writing a tribute to 4 years of high school was, even at the time it was being written. I cringe but appreciate my thoughtfulness. Without further ado:
A High school Memoire
Coming into high school, I expected nothing less than one of the many long and strenuous milestones I would have to reach in my life. Looking back, I can say with complete honesty and sincerity that high school has changed my life. For some, four years might have seemed to consist simply of academics, sports, and friendships. For me, high school is more.
High school was a time for lack of responsibility and opportunity. It was hallway gatherings, lunch time conversations, after school hang outs and weekend parties. It was early morning drives and warm afternoons. It was laughing at inside jokes and experiencing second-hand embarrassing moments. It was spirit week and prom and boring dances and assemblies that felt like eternity. It was basketball games and night rallies and intense games in the quad. It was driving around for no apparent reason. It was movie nights with friends and the excitement and utter confidence in watching horror films. It was late night midnight snacks and 3am drive thru's. It was texting conversations that became more important than dinner and driving to your friend’s house when there was nothing to do. It was not worrying too far ahead and focusing on the present and near future. High school was a time of firsts: a time of experimentation, change, and growth. It was first kisses and dates, lust and love, friendships and summer romances. It was the first day of school, of practice, of opening night of the musical. High school was excitement; it was about passion and pursuit, blind love and infatutuation. It was the feeling of being invincible, the feeling of being able to satisfy my desire to be happy despite teachers and parents and old enemies.
Above all, it was the people I grew so close to that have really defined my adolescence: my best friends, my close friends, my friends in class and from my team. These people were my friends- friends who made me die of laughter and of petty embarrassing moments, friends I could talk to about enemies and girls and family, friends who knew every one of my pet peeves, favorite foods, facial expressions and nuances in character. They were friends that could accept my forgetfulness and lack of ability in multi-tasking and friends who I could trust in ordering my food at restaurants or move my car or talk my parents into letting me go out. They were friends who I can now admit, were right about bad people, risky situations and relationships they tried to warn me about. It was these small and minor gestures that represented my faith and trust in them. It would be foolish of me to not mention the endless number of acquaintances; the people that I will probably forget in the future, but have made every day at school different for me. Whether it was a head nod in the hallway or an interesting conversation in class. I won’t remember these people, or what they said, but I know I’ll remember the feeling of casual friendliness.
To say that all of this sums up high school would be romanticizing it. It wasn’t carefree and untroubled and there wasn’t a party every night. Most days are uneventful. Weeks go by and things seem to feel the same. There are bad days, horrible Mondays, and boring weekends. There are failed exams, late nights finishing essays, and crap from teachers during class. Almost every morning is a struggle to get up and live. There are days I’ve felt unmotivated, depressed and lonely and there are nights of insomnia and physical hurt. Times I’ve felt like being someone else. Moments I drowned myself in sad songs and isolated myself from friends and family. There are douche bags who ruin your day without trying and parents that vomit complaints every time they open their mouths. There are break ups, unrequited love and mixed signals. I had friends who haven’t even experienced a first love or a date to the dance. I had friends who would dread going home because of family problems and knew people who skipped school to avoid the trouble of facing ruthless peers. High school created anger, melancholy, anxiety and self-hatred. It was a factory of unsatisfied teenagers who felt powerless in situations.
High school is the biggest oxymoron I know. I can feel happy and sad, surrounded but alone. I can talk about how invincible I felt and how trapped I felt too. As much as I am ready to leave behind this institution, and move on with the rest of my life, high school has taught me many lessons I didn’t realize until now. It is a true test of perseverance and patience, of making right decisions and letting go of past mistakes. It taught me how to move on, to accept the things I can’t change, to love and be loved. Ultimately, high school is a testament of my accomplishment- an accomplishment that surpasses a 2300 on the SAT or a 4.0 average, but shows how strong and brave I am for dealing with the suffering that is embedded in my coming of age story.
Surely, I will forget about everything: the friends, the enemies, the good days and bad days, the most humiliating experiences and my sophomore year. Everything will become a blurry recollection of past events I won’t conjure in my mind until I’m 40. In some ways, I’m lucky that it works out this way. But even though everything that happens in high school will not matter in the future, it mattered then and that is why I’m writing this prose. The irony of writing a memoire to only forget about it is the 2nd biggest oxymoron I know.