When you wake up to the realization that it has been 10 years since you left High School or Secondary School, you start to feel old all over again.
On Saturday, June 16, 2007, about 50 of us cheer and run wild with excitement. The event? Our graduation. We are finally done!
Some call the school, “Rusted”. Others choose the term, “Prison”, and the names just keep pouring in.
In reality, it is “Sheltered” and “Nurturing”, made up of that sort of beauty that only time can sharpen.
During my early days in boarding school, I remember feeling old enough.
The majority of us were dropped off by parents, prepared to be separated from their minor children for stretches of months at a time.
Except weekly midterm breaks and seasonal holidays, school became our new home.
And so it was that hundreds of us trooped through the gates. Lugging suitcases neatly packed with the memories of our former homes.
These suitcases will be screened. The luxury of food items and unrestrained candy banned, only reserved for occasions deemed special.
Those of us who wore masks of confidence and maturity, consoled newly discovered siblings who will plead for the familiarity of their former homes. We gave bear hugs and surrendered our ears.
Most nights are spent listening to stories that should not be shared with people you have just met. So, it is that years after, we can still recognize their real life characters.
We were vulnerable children raising ourselves. It was a struggle to carry along in pinafore and shorts’ pockets, the principles from home. After all, our objective behind those walls was to shine academically, pressing the pause button to all other aspects of life.
This is something you and I know have grown to know today. Life never stops for one child. All its scenes must play simultaneously.
We played as young children and fought as adolescents. We laughed as teenagers and remained children in our thinking. A protected environment can do that to you, painting the world a blanket of macaroon pink.
Our mannerisms and motivation from the former homes, mixed and matched with mutated variants formed by our new surroundings.
We created, competed, and failed in full sight of one another. These moments soldered stronger bonds together and for a select few, marked the beginning of that mushy kind of forever.
There were teachers that cared. Pseudo-parents who instructed and disciplined, all drawn into this tangled web of brittle memories.
It is easy to forget, to remember falsely, and to ignore the influences that feed into who our grown selves have become.
Which is why I chose to unpack a suitcase today, lift out a book of memories and open its pages. To re-read the words we wrote before we said goodbyes that Saturday.
“Stay true to yourself.”
“Never forget your God, Jehovah”
“I am going to miss you”
“See you in the outside world.”
“Hope we meet again,”