What was it?
When I think about high school, I think about mostly nothing. While my time wearing braces and polos was no doubt an enlightening intellectual time for me, I often feel like the lessons I learned there were transitory and forgettable: remember your gym clothes, don’t get the cafeteria pizza, cover your textbooks.
Maybe the seeds were planted for real lessons: books > boys, don’t dry hump too much, lay off the blue eyeshadow, find what you love and do it. But nothing much came to bloom in high school, besides acne.
When I think about lessons, I do not think about high school. Still, whenever September rolls around, I feel both relief and slight envy that I am no longer in school. I usually buy pants and pencils, which dulls the pain enough, and then I do adult things like drink whiskey and not schnapps, which dulls the pain considerably. Then, the waxing nostalgic happens, and I’m thinking about 16 years old. Worthy enough, if only for the memories.
For somebody who hated high school, there’s not much to wax. Except how good it felt leaving it, how good it felt senior year knowing I’d toss that shit behind and shoot forward, how good it felt to have everything, right there in front of you. Ah, the goddamn awe of it. In a roundabout way, we’ve reached the lesson. Perhaps the only thing I took from high school, and, of course, promptly lost somewhere along the way.
It’s not even a lesson, really. It’s a memory of a feeling, and one I haven’t felt for a long time:
Reconsider the Awe.
I remember being in high school enough to remember feeling absolutely fucking awed at absolutely everything. When a boy touched my hand, sparks flew out of it. When I stayed out late at a diner and ate egg whites and soggy bacon with friends who didn’t even like me that much, I felt electric and almost wild. When I stood at graduation in front of 300 bored parents, I felt like the entire world was floating above my head, ready for me to grasp. When I heard a fucking SONG I liked—-revolution. When I got a haircut—new leaves turned, new opportunities abound.
This feeling has lessened so much, and replaced with—this egg sandwich is okay, I guess this sunset is nice, the date was okay, the new job is nice but hard. We censor our emotions because we know that life sucks and everything ends, and we’re trying not to get hurt along the way. It happens when you reach the real stuff, and the real stuff hardens your nails, heart, and head.
And today, I ask you to reconsider the awe anyway. To throw some cynicism aside. To feel shit wholly and gigantic, to appreciate things large and small and be wild over them. Get giddy with it: the fall leaves, a good hug, some new outfit, a good bite of pizza, a friend, a kiss. Get fuckin awed with it.
Why? I don’t know. Because phases of our life die so quickly. Because things end so rapidly and all we have are the emotions leftover from them. Because we get hard, and we forget, and because of those things, we lose the awe of it. But if we could hold onto at least a little, we can grasp at things fully before they are gone. And if I could close my eyes and see high school, I see: acne, denim skirts, and awe. Not much, but something.
I almost miss it. I’m gonna try it—-I’m rusty, but I’ll see how it goes. If anything, it’ll fade faster than curfews, than drugstore black eyeliner in your water rim, than concert ticket stubs you thought you’d never throw out and do. But maybe one day you’ll stand on some street corner like 300 bored parents are flapping their pamphlets at you, waiting for the ceremony to end. And you’ll feel alive. There: you grab the world above your head, you pay for your coffee, and you move on.
That could be enough.
-reconnect with my hair, “ah, hair, we meet at long last under this pile of frizz that rats would make their home”
-try on all my fall clothes from last year and throw them, dissatisfied, into a pile screaming
-head to Forever 21 so I can make misguided outfit choices like: burgundy tights (nope, never going to wear them), hunter green tights (why the fuck do I do this), a giant owl necklace, and a beanie that ultimately does not look good on my head
-MAC Diva lipstick and MAC Nightmoth pencil, TRUST
-be enamored with the color cranberry and frankly, not as impressed with the fruit
-wear down my pleather jacket just a little bit more
-every time somebody says “boots”…DRINK!!!!
-lose my umbrella
-treat a man so cold he puts on his jacket
-wish they would remake Hocus Pocus with Meryl Streep/Meryl Streep/Meryl Streep, Mindy Kaling/Jessica Williams/Aubrey Plaza, Tina Fey/Melissa McCarthy/Amy Poehler AND Bette/Kathy/Sarah LIKE MAKE THEM ALL
-oh and maybe like, an older hot guy for the cat? No reason hahahahahahahahahah no reason
-go to my parent’s house and convince them to show me where they store their trick’or’treat goodies. Eat em. Be a tiny helpless fucking fall baby on my parent’s house
-Instagram some stupid shit with like my feet and a book and weather and shit
-buy a candle that smells like sweaters
-use it to cast a spell on anybody who opens up those leaked pictures
-that would send an email to their parents of the last 10 things they googled
-guarantee one of them would be gross
-avoid candy corn, hoard the candy pumpkins, have to defend my choices to everyone
-less pumpkin spice, more apple cider with whiskey
-every time I crave a pumpkin spice latte, make a pumpkin pie instead, eat it while strolling through leaves
-keep my shorts in a pile for months “in case it gets hot”
-refuse to move my air conditioner out of the window
-let’s not kid, I never tried to get a bikini bod this summer because my bikini bod is MINE AND SPONSORED BY MEXICAN CORN AND CHEESE FRIES ON THE BOARDWALK, but now that a lot of people are off that steeze, I will eat heartily with them
-think about making hot drinks almost constantly and almost never do
-when I do, let the cup just sit there for a while
-enjoy fall for the week it actually exists, lay like a blob and do nothing, start singing annoying christmas carols before you know it