Back in April, I was not ready to graduate high school. All I was thinking about was how I hadn’t had enough time with the people who mattered, and how I might never have enough time because of the inevitability of the goodbye. There are people I wish I could know for a lifetime, not just a couple of months or years. In my mind, I knew I was ready for a new life — one outside of the mandated schooling and San Jose I’d known for years. However, my heart was not ready.
As I went around asking for yearbook signatures from friends and teachers, I felt disbelief that high school was ending. The day I asked Mr. Cahn to sign my yearbook was especially memorable.
I had Mr. Cahn as a sophomore for AP Biology. He is a warm man who reminds me of teddy bears and soda pop: comforting, fuzzy, and filled of bubbly laughter. His classroom felt like home. I’m glad to have known Mr. Cahn for three years.
When he signed my yearbook, he told me “I’ll miss you,” to which I naturally replied “I’ll miss you too…” I didn’t know what face to make. Goodbyes are hard.
His reply shocked me. It was a look of disbelief — one slightly upset that I had lied to him. “You’re going to do so many amazing things at Berkeley.”
Already halfway out the door, I could only yell through the doorway. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss you!”
I was on my way to Ms. Kelley’s room, because I wanted to chat with her before time ran out. Confused by what had just happened, I wanted into her room and sat down at a desk in front of her. I was bothered. Mr. Cahn hadn’t believed that I would miss him, and I told Ms. Kelley this.
She told me, “You’re going to be too busy to miss us. We know that. And I’m so excited for what great things you’ll do next!”
I couldn’t say much as she continued on about how exciting college my future was for the rest of break, because I was trying not to cry. I hated that she was probably right… I knew she was right, because I’d done it before. I’ve been too busy to miss people I truly loved.
In eighth grade, I was close with two teachers who had changed my life: Mrs. Z and Mrs. Genise. In my Common App essay, I even said I could write pages and pages about the ways they affected me. Unfortunately, that was a lie. I probably could have done that as a 13-year-old, but not anymore. I honestly wish I could, but I don’t remember enough of eighth grade to remember the specific ways in which these two teachers affected me. What’s left is fuzzy memories of Mrs. Z making video game references and Mrs. Genise’s daily “good morning Miss Alice!” (even though it wasn’t really morning anymore). That was four years ago, and I didn’t keep a journal back then. I wish I could remember.
I loved them so much that I used to think I would visit often just to see them. In reality, I got so busy with high school that I rarely did. I still remember how much I loved them. I even cried once when I reread the notes they left in my eighth grade yearbook a year later. It still wasn’t important enough for me to visit.
That’s how I know that even though I will remember the people who were important to me this year and continue to cherish the memories I shared with them, life will move on.
The saddest part isn’t even that I’ll miss people. The saddest part is that I might not.
One day during economics class, I looked around at my classmates and wondered how many of them I would talk to after high school. Chris and Tiana had a very…uh…positive outlook: none of them, themselves included. In their opinion, most of the yearbook notes were apparently meaningless niceties.
As idealistic as it might sound, I don’t want to just forget everyone.
To everyone I love: Maybe all of the messages I wrote in yearbooks and cards — all of the hopeful things I said — won’t be as powerful in a year. However, I hope you know that when I wrote it, I meant it 1000%. At least once in a while, I’d like to miss you. You are worth loving, and you are worth remembering. I hope I can love you for as long as possible, even when the distance makes it hard to remember why I did. You gave my life sunshine, and I’ll want to remember what the sun looked like during the long rainy days at Cal.
In fact, even though college is as exciting as it is, I miss you already.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh