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Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Begining of the End

So...I'm a senior.


It's interesting walking into the building behind a freshman. The SUV their parents drive pulls up to the edge of the walkway and stands silent for a few brief seconds before a scared, short, obviously awkward kid steps out and says goodbye. Though they turn away from the car, they will inevitably end up standing in the exact same position they're currently in till their parent's car is at least halfway up the road from the school. Whether this is an unconscious action or not can be debated, not one freshman waits alike. Many appear visibly scared as they stand, perhaps hoping the car will return to take them back to the safe, un-intimidating middle school they still see as their true educational establishment, while others simply take it all in. There's a long intake of breath as they stare at the school they've heard so much about, the epitome of the teenage experience staring them directly in the face.

There's another breath, a hiking up of pants, a fixing of hair, and the freshman takes a step forward.

Meanwhile, sauntering in forty minutes before first period, armed with nothing but a small, black bag and an iced coffee, is me. The senior. It's the fourth first day of school I've experienced as a student of Exeter High, and at the moment, the realization is only just hitting that it will be the last. There's a fair amount of contemplation going on, similar to that experienced by the freshman, only in reverse. They're scared of the future, the beginning of this new era, whereas I'm worried about the end of it.

This particular freshman, a boy about half my size who probably only recently turned 14, and still doesn't entirely think of himself as a teenager yet, is walking quickly, carefully and slowly. It's odd walking behind him, trying to put myself in his place. Watching the pavement, avoiding eye contact, wondering if anyone else looks like he does. My freshman year was three years ago, and was so marred by failing grades, teenage angst, and out of control weight that it's difficult to remember what exactly I was thinking that first day. It seems like such a long time ago, now that I think about it. I'm only seventeen, three years is a long time.

It's incredibly bizarre when you realize that past from what seems like forever ago is the present of the person in front of you.

I don't know a single person in this year's freshman class, which is the first time this has ever, ever happened to me since I started High School. Even the juniors, of which I know most, seem to know a few of them. Logically, this would make sense. High School is the only place in our school system that lasts four years as opposed to one. I've gone to school with the Juniors and Sophomores for a least a year of every school I've been to, but the freshman, I've never seen. It's jarring that suddenly there's this class of complete strangers wandering around, that there's a good chance I've never once laid an eye on the boy walking in front of me.

It's a bit like Brecht again. The alienation effect. You walk along thinking nothing has changed till you're suddenly, alarmingly reminded that it has. You don't belong anymore, you're nearly done.
How bizarre is that?

It's been interesting, and weird. I have free periods, interesting classes, and am allowed to leave. I'm generally treated with a higher degree of respect from the administration, aside from the guidance department, my teachers speak to me like I'm an adult. It would be so easy to slip back into the previous routine of attending school, but I can't. Not really. It's all too different.

And yet, I still have a major paper due tomorrow, one which I am procrastinating heavily in actually doing. The entire experience is the same, but different. I'm a High School student, but...I don't really feel like one anymore.

In about a year from now, I'll be 18. It's not just my last year of High School, it's my last year of childhood. I've been given this whole "coming of age" stuff my entire life, I turned ten and came of age, I turned 13 and came of age, I turned 16 and was suddenly sweet, and now, I'll turn 18 and will suddenly be an adult. This is year is so big, it's so weighty and epic, a part of me feels like it will eventually crush me. Deep down, I know it won't, but between all that's supposed to happen, all that has to get done, all I have to remember, and uphold, and perform, and eventually do, I wonder, I really wonder, how the hell am I going to do this?

I have a feeling the freshman in front of me is thinking the same thing. High School is a beast of a time, it's constantly talked about, constantly referenced, and has achieved a level of near legendary status among kids and teens of lower grades. It's a time of your life that seems impossible to get to and once you're there, seems almost impossible to end.

And so we walk into school in the morning. The freshman and the senior. One at the beginning, and one at the end. Both are scared, both are tense, both have no idea what on Earth they're truly up against, and both are wondering how the hell they're going to pull this off.

It's a weird, weird time. And I have a feeling, it's only going to get even weirder.

See ya later folks,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Weird can be a wonderful thing. Or awful. Or just different. Godspeed.
Check your Email. I'll be sending you my play I got to write for ENG 170.