by Ashten Duncan
An eighteen year old girl is climbing into her car late one August afternoon. Her back aching, arms sore, and legs shaky. She has just finished unpacking the last of her belongings into an 8×8 dorm room in downtown Nashville, where she will be spending the next four years of her life. One more trip home, one more goodbye, one more hug and kiss from her little brother, and it begins. College. The seven letter word that changes everything. She stares out the window on her way back to Jasper, thinking about life, and how different it is about to become. She is excited, but anxious. This is her last night at home.
The next day, she says her goodbyes, loads the car, and hits the road. However, she does not head straight for the interstate. Instead, she starts toward downtown Jasper, and approaches Walker High School. She parks in her normal parking spot, puts that old decal back up, and walks toward the stairs like she did every day for four years. As she enters the school, memories begin to pour in like molasses. The first day of school as a freshman: feeling two feet high and as vulnerable as a small child. The day she made varsity cheerleader: full of relief and excitement. Making all those crazy videos in Media. Junior prom. Football games, feeling the grass between your feet while being painted up and screaming for your boys until your voice box falls out. Homecoming: dress up days, the toga run, parade, game, and dance. Senior skip day at the lake, where she almost broke her neck. And graduation: walking across Kiro-Gambrell field for the last time, wearing ridiculous heels that sank into the grass as she walked, singing with Encore, receiving her diploma, and throwing that ridiculous cap.
It’s over. High school is just a previous chapter in the book that compiles her life. She is no longer a child. She is now faced with an overwhelming amount of responsibility, living on her own, and taking care of herself. Where did the time go? Was it really four years? Am I really this old? No really, am I really this old? Will I be remembered? What will be said about me after I leave? What is my legacy? Did I make the most of high school?
This eighteen year old girl sure wishes she could have the past four years back. She wishes that her best friends could always be by her side. She misses singing in Encore under the direction of the great Tamera Matthews, dancing down main hall with the janitors, discovering a love for poetry in Ms. Mego’s class, going to Anchor convention with Mrs. Lyle, talking to Mrs. Mullinax about anything and everything besides what she’s supposed to, and poking fun at Ms. Matthis, Mrs. Barnette, and counselors. She misses eating chicken fingers every other day in the cafeteria, hearing the tardy bell and running to Anatomy, saying hey to sweet Coach Aldridge in the hallway, and studying Beowulf with Pam Brown, one of the kindest people she’s ever known. She misses the things she took for granted. She misses high school.
High school for some seems pointless, boring, and unappealing. There are tests, papers, projects, more tests, and many nights spent staying up late to cram for something you procrastinated for three weeks. Many times, we look at high school and see the negative. However, there are so many more positive attributes than negative ones. These four years are meant for establishing relationships, having fun, and discovering the young man or woman you are meant to be. These four years cannot be bought, traded, or exchanged. It is your privilege to make the most out of your high school experience. So, take it from that eighteen year old girl. Live it up.