Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Eighteen Cool


            The Head of School cleared his throat and spoke into the mic.  “Jake Meyer Max,” he said in his cool, relaxed voice.  That was it—I was done.  I stood up, received my diploma, shook hands, and retired back to my seat where I could finally sit in peace.
            High school was certainly a wild ride.  Coming to Park in the ninth grade was by no means an easy transition.  I was a whiny little 5’2” Jewish kid who was convinced he was the smartest, coolest, freshman to ever walk the face of the earth.  This was not exactly the perfect recipe for popularity.  I had a few friends, but I struggled immensely to branch out and meet new people.
            For two years, I slacked off a little too much in my classes, I was a little too out of shape to be decent at sports, and I was a little too awkward to have many friends.  In the meantime, I saw a lot of movies on Saturday nights when the people who I wanted to be my friends were hanging out and partying.
            By the time junior year rolled around, I wasn’t in a great place.  I still lacked a core group of friends, not to mention the fact that I had never so much as touched a girl (not for lack of trying).  I didn’t understand what it meant to be cool in high school.  I didn’t get it.
            Finally, towards the end of junior year, things started to turn around for me.  I made some friends that I really liked, and finally started to become included in the outings and gatherings that before I never was.
            Senior year was by far my favorite year in school.  At this point there were many people who I could honestly say were my friends, and they were all people who I truly enjoyed spending my time with.  I tried to cherish every moment I had with my friends because I knew that all too soon it would be coming to an end.  This year, I’ve done all sorts of unforgettable things with my friends.  From Field of Screams, to Sweet Life, and Bengie’s Drive-In, we’ve made our fair share of memories.
            On the other hand, sometimes it’s the average days in a high schooler’s life that seem to be the most memorable.  Whether it was Sunday night Big Bang Theory with my girlfriend (somewhere along the line I figured out a thing or two about the opposite sex) or executive Student Parking Only meetings at Chipotle, I rarely passed up an opportunity to enjoy life as it passed me by.
            Now, as I sit at home as a high school graduate, I cannot help but reminisce.  Yesterday, life seemed so simple; school, sports, and most importantly, friends, were constants in my life.  In just one day, everything has changed.  People go away for the summer, while others work jobs at long hours.  Before we know it, many of my friends will be headed off to their respective schools.
            The future is so unpredictable.  People, who just a day ago I considered some of my closest friends, can slip away just like that.  It’s impossible to see it coming, but I dread it nonetheless.  It’s scary to think that someone you’ve spent countless hours with, doing things as trivial as sitting on a bench in the quarry eating gummy bears, or as deep as a life changing conversation by the pool, can just go away.
            I have had a range of friendships in high school.  Some as simple as basketball and Halo 3, some as complicated as love, reciprocated or not.  Regardless, they all hold a special place in my heart, and I hate to see them go.  So today, as I begin the rest of my life, I hope to hold on to those I call my friends, because whether they realize it or not, they really do matter to me.