The Rhythm of Life

20 Aug

A year ago today, the last day of summer, I woke up to unfinished French homework that I didn’t want to do.

After four hours of faking time stamps and Google translate, I waited for my friend Michelle to pick up the book she had loaned me. It would be the last book I read that summer.

I had only ever seen Michelle looking put-together. Even when she was sad, or stressed, she would tell me some profound life truth and seem confident of it, almost like my mother. But today, Michelle didn’t talk much. I made tea, and we drank some until she said that her mom would want her home, that she left for college the next day. She looked like she had been crying.

When she left, I drove to the grocery store and bought lemon cupcakes and lemonade which I brought to the pool office and ate with my friend Sophia. We ate and drank, and listened to Led Zeppelin, and talked about how much we would miss the pool until it opened again next year.

At six o’clock, I met some people for ice cream. My friend Peter played music on his guitar until it got dark. I offered to drive him home, and on the way he talked about how much better college was than high school. I assumed he was right. As I drove along the highway in the dark, I saw the exit towards Indianapolis.

“Let’s go to Indianapolis,” I begged.

Peter laughed.

“No, I’m serious. We can go right now. I’m sure Indianapolis is better than high school.”

Peter thought about it for a minute. “It probably isn’t,” he said, “and anyways, we don’t have any money, or food, and your dad needs his car back.”

I sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

As I drove home alone, I thought about Indianapolis. I didn’t really want to go there. I just didn’t want to go to school the next day. I wanted to be at the pool, not in a huge building with a bunch of people I didn’t like. Better yet, I wanted to go away to college with Peter, or even Michelle. Or anywhere.

A year ago today, I wanted to skip to today.

I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to skip hearing Sufjan Steven’s Illinois, writing my first great essay and reading The Stranger, which is now one of my favorite books. I wanted to skip meeting my new friends from study hall, Theology class and the lunch table. I wanted to skip having my first kiss, my favorite acting part and singing in Carnegie Hall. I wanted to skip holding my best friend as she cried, and drinking tea with her every afternoon while she laughed. I wanted to skip falling in love.

And now it’s time to leave behind everything I was sure I didn’t care about a year ago. Only now I’m not so sure. Sometimes I even wish I could skip next year and live last year again. But who knows what I would be skipping? And in any case, I can’t.

I sit on the couch with my brother, watching the last episode of a show we started together before he left for college two years ago. It’s called Gossip Girl, but these moments are almost sentimental. These moments are the last we’ll spend together before we both leave, and I’m grown up. I hear my phone ding and look down at the lit-up screen. There is a new message from my dad.

“Engage release and move on”

“What?” I respond.

“Its the rhythm of life.”

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