Summer is rapidly coming to a close, and with summer's end, comes school's beginning. For the past several years, I have had the excitement of going back to school to see all of my friends, and of course, get back into a routine with them. We have had our routine for quite a while now: come in early, buy breakfast in the cafeteria, and sit in a circle in an elevator alcove for the entire rest of the school to see, as they would pass us by on their busy ways to a.m. classes or the library.
Together, we ate our food, shared stories of the evening before, and expressed the stressors that we would face in the coming hours. Slowly, classes would start, and we would begin to trickle out, alone or in groups, always sent off for the day with such love, even though we would all see one another at lunch in a few short hours.
Leaving for college feels the same to me. For years, we have had our routine, all of us together in one place, and we could leave even if it was just to go to class, with the knowledge that there would be a place for us whenever we were able to come back. Now, we are all going off in many different directions, some six hours away, and some commuting to their schools every day, but no matter the situation, we will no longer be the breakfast club we once were. Some of us are even staying in high school. Not everyone in a group of friends can always graduate at the same time, and for the ones we graduates are leaving behind, we would absolutely take you with us if we could!
Over the years, we have had some people we love move away, and other friends join us. Even from across the country, we kept the ones who had to go "in the know" with what was going on at home. And for the newcomers, we welcomed them with wide open arms, and they instantly became a part of the family. We always made sure to keep The Alcove a happy, welcoming place, for anyone to come to when they needed a friend, and to stay for as long as they would like.
Now that most of us are leaving, it is time to pass on our beloved Alcove to the young high schoolers who we were once just like, and trust them to reach into the school community we leave behind with the same warmth we did, to invite anyone, and everyone, into our home. We are giving the ones we cannot physically take with us our space to learn and teach others to be kind, and to have a home.
To my friends who I love with oh-so-much of me: I will miss you dearly. I will miss the mornings filled with spilled coffees, and QuickChek barcode stickers stuck to each other's sweatshirts. I will miss having conversations with the people who did not come out of the elevator when its doors opened and it was empty. I will miss the "drive-thru" lifestyle we all shared: having people stop by as they passed, and getting to know them, even if just for a moment. I will miss stepping over everyone and their backpacks to get to my spot in the morning. I will miss being the last one to leave, almost every day, and having the absolute pleasure of looking at our little home every morning with a smile, and knowing it was ours. Thank you for doing high school with me, and thank you for helping make it fantastic.
To my rising Seniors and below: time flies. Please cherish the time you spend here, and never count down the time you have left, because it takes away from the sweetness of every second. Know the responsibility of what you have now, and try very hard to not forget us. Please.
As the 8:00 a.m. bells slowly start to ring on our move-in days, and we trickle out of our tiny town, I hope we send each other off just as lovingly as we did every morning of the last four years. Trust me, I will be waving my handkerchief for hours as you each drive away.
Just as I have been each morning, I am so beautifully the last one to leave for college at the end of the summer. I have the extremely exciting privilege of getting to watch you all drive off towards your dreams.
I also get to be the last one to look at our little town, and smile, knowing it was ours.
Thank you for an incredible four years together. I send us all off with the love of Christ Jesus. I cannot wait to see what is next for us.
Photo Courtesy of Caroline Gutierrez