"I've done my waiting, 12 years of it, in AZKABAAAAAN" - Sirius Black
12 years is a long time for anyone, but more so for someone who isn't even 18 yet. It's ⅔ of my life and I don't remember much from the other third. Almost everything I've ever known is from the last 12 years, and I knew it would end. Every college website I scavenged, every tour I took, every application essay I wrote reminded me of the inevitable end of my childhood. I knew it was coming and I put so much of myself into preparing for it. I wanted to be ready for it. I had to be ready for it.
I spent a good part of my senior year coming to terms with some regrets I had. Not leaving my department soon enough, not pushing myself hard enough, not being enough, not getting new glasses frames soon enough, you know, the typical things. I was angry. Angry at myself, at the people around me, the circumstances, the weather, whatever seemed to be contributing to how I felt in that moment. I spent days hating where I was in my life and being so ready to move on to the next thing. To understand where I was going and just… go already. I made peace with the fact I couldn't change what happened so far and decided to go through the motions, taking in all that I had left of senior year and milking it up as much as I could.
This whole adjusted mindset allowed me to enjoy so much more. I carried less stress around with me and it made me better in so many areas. I practiced for the sake of making music, not to meet a standard someone set for me. I did my classwork to learn, not to get a grade. I fixed my sleep schedule and challenged myself to take a break from social media (side note, it works wonders). I did things I thought I never had time to do before, reading and journaling and picking up hobbies like German or hypnosis. I worked with my NHS to take my ideas and make them happen, like a bingo night fundraiser and a blood drive. I bought tickets to see my friend's play, got in the annual rhythm of gruesome rehearsals for the all-school musical, and planned a senior skip day, all while preparing myself for the not so distant end.
I imagined endless combinations of the future I might live and I let it drive me to enjoy getting there. I imagined all my lasts. My last mic check, the last time drawing a heart in the air down to my director in the pit. My last show circle, bow, and even strike. My last concert, with all the people that braved through our diction class, juries, and recitals showcased in front of the stage, as our director looks back at where we've been and where we're going. My last day of school, clinging onto everyone I can, crying harder than I did a year before when I realized that the seniors leaving would soon be us, and walking through that art covered lobby as a student one last time. I even thought about my last prom, although I've never really been one for school dances. I imagined standing in the middle of South Potomac Street, in front of the school and theater that has been my home for the last four years, in a bouncing sea of silver and purple caps and gowns. I imagined my newly born niece at my graduation party and saying goodbye to her and everyone else I love as I leave behind everything I've ever known.
This is the way it was supposed to be.
A few weeks ago I had to start cleaning out my childhood bedroom so that family could stay there. I sat under my wooden loft bed in a puddle of yearbooks, journals, overnight camp notes, letters, and memories, and boy did I swim in it. I'm what the kids call a "bitch for nostalgia", even when I'm not surrounded by it all. Naturally, I let it overwhelm me. I imagine you know the feeling. Being afraid of growing up because you know you'll never be able to come back, not really anyways. Realizing that the clock is always ticking and it always has been. Letting yourself go back to whatever that bliss was for you, coming back, and wondering when and how you let it go. Not to be melodramatic, but "grieving your childhood", if you will. I looked around at all these things that broke and built me into who I am. I hate that all I can do now is look. I don't think I took them for granted, but at the time I didn't realize it would all come to an end.
This time I knew the end was coming. I tried to not let the time pass me by. I made myself forget the things I regretted because I knew that if I didn't, if I spent my entire senior year being angry, it would be my greatest regret of all. It breaks my heart that, for us, asking where the time has gone isn't an expression or exaggeration. States across the country have started shutting down schools for the rest of the semester. We could, and likely will be next. Every day we sit in wait with the reality that this could be the end to our beginning. I was ready to take it all in, and that might be taken from me. And this time, there is nothing I can do about it.
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