I had spent the day with my friends from high school. I always wondered who would be my friends when I got older. Like, would I keep in contact with my high school friends through college or, am I gonna be friends with my college buddies for the rest of my life. What about that kid I met in elementary school that I STILL know? Or my BFF from middle school? Every person I met as a kid I thought was gonna be an eternal friend, but how would it really turn out? My parents already have different friends from even when I was a kid, how did they even find these people, if not from school. My curiosity quickly turned to a sad gaze. I was feeling just as I felt as a 5 year old - fearing the future. I had just met a girl named Becky in kindergarten. We declared a forever friendship. But that night I came home crying in despair and wondering what the future held for our friendship. I dreamt about being friends for life, but had seen so many other people with friends that came and went. I thought for a second, those are pretty deep thoughts for a five year old. Hmm, I guess I’ve always been a big thinker, and what better, or worse, to think about, than the future.
By now I guess it felt natural to let go of certain people. Switching from middle school to high school and finding out that there were other people I could hang out with that were as cool, or even cooler than my old friends. Then another doubt crept in. I didn’t want that to happen with my friends that I had had since my first year of high school. My ringtone broke the silence. “I’m aaaaaaaaaaalmooooost theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!” The familiar and upbeat song from Princess and the Frog seemed to pierce my thoughts momentarily. Then I thought about the first time I saw Tiana sing that catchy anthem. I felt like I was the same exact person as that 7 year old self. I didn’t know whether to find comfort or worry from that thought. Everyone else seemed to change so much. All the people I knew from growing up didn’t seem the same as that first day of giggles as we hit it off immediately. Things kept changing all around me, but I felt like the same person. Singing princess songs, while I put on the mask of a “big girl.” The only way I got through high school was by singing those songs over and over. Then I pleasantly muttered, “Oh, my phone’s ringing.”
I answered the phone to Hannah’s voice. “Were you singing your ringtone again!” She asked in a light hearted accusing way. “Of course not.” I quickly said in a sarcastic tone. She chuckled. I would miss that laugh in college. We chatted for a little while about the cute ice cream shoppe we met at earlier for a friendly gathering of farewell. After hanging up, I stared at my phone’s home screen background picture. It was 5 of my friends along with myself, all huddled around the camera wearing fuzzy pink stick-on mustaches and smiling as if we were all about to explode into laughter. I thought about how over the years, that picture on my home screen had changed from my dog, to my middle school BFF, to my at-the-time-boyfriend, to my first day at high school pic, and now my dear friends that I was leaving, after what seemed like no time at all. I was going to college.
It struck my mind as if it were a new and intriguing idea. I looked around my room at the packed clothes. I glanced at my nearly empty dresser seeing my well-used lip gloss tube, given to me by my friend Addie last year. It was on Valentine's day. All the girls set up joke proposals for their friends. She got down at one knee as I gasped mockingly like I had seen on YouTube proposals. She presented the lip gloss, and we danced, or just swung, left and right with lots of giggles. Images floated through our minds of that day when an actual guy that we were head over heels in love with would get down on his knee. I smiled at the memory and grabbed the lip gloss and tossed it into a bag. There’s always that one thing that I forget.
I ran down my stairs and my mom stopped me. Looked at me lovingly and started tearing up. We had a moment of silence. A sweet moment for her, an awkward one for me. “Have you seen my jersey?” The long moment was now broken. “Here it is!” my little sister squealed. I grabbed it as quickly as I could from her grasp before she went around the house, with me chasing after her. I held the shirt up reading the text on the front. Tennessee Stallions. My dreams sure had changed since I was a little girl. I had always wanted to attend college in Washington D.C., but somehow, now Tennessee seemed just as exciting and full of opportunity.
The next day I got up at 5 am. I flung the covers onto the floor, took a quick look around my room - the silly self portraits of my friends, a picture of my family and I at graduation, and a selfie of my teacher and I smiling as we sold jewelry at a school fundraiser. Then I grabbed my bags and headed downstairs. No one was up yet. I loved that feeling. I sat down in complete silence and excitedly texted my friend Melody. College Day! So excited!!! She texted back with a road trip pic of her family in the car as she headed off to her own college in Minnesota. I thought about how we would keep in touch. Whether to call her or just text once a week or so. My family awoke and we packed up. My mom took a picture of me with my bags, because that was “an important moment.” We hopped into the car and were on our way to my new college.
I began to wonder who the first person I would meet would be. A friend and study buddy or a strict old teacher. We drove into the parking lot and up to the unloading area. A senior led me to the dorms and I knocked on a door, my door, and walked in. A tall blonde was inside reading intently. She looked up and I smiled at her. She smiled and introduced herself. Her name was Alyssa and she was my roommate. I hugged my parents and they kissed me goodbye. I knew the next time I would see them, I was going to be a full-on freshman in college. Integrated in the classes, friend groups, and occasions. At least I hoped I would. Or I could be a full-on insecure and un-included freshman. I guess I’ll just hope for the best, I thought with a mental shrug.
Alyssa was very kind, and an avid reader. Unlike myself, who preferred to, “just watch the movie.” But I could tell with her bubbly spirit and my thoughtful one, somehow we would get along splendidly.
That night I lay still in bed, and as ever, thinking. I decided I was happy with wherever Alyssa's and my friendship was going to take me and for however long it would last. I wanted to enjoy and cherish one another now. I opened my eyes momentarily, excited for a new school and a new friendship. I glanced over at the string of photos on my desk. It held all of my old friends, but I knew in my heart that I was ready to make new ones too.