To be honest, this is not what I imagined my senior year would look like. In middle school my friends and I would sit in the stairwell during lunch and craft elaborate daydreams of what we’d do when we were finally ‘older’, that mystical far-away time of indistinguishable happiness that we couldn’t pinpoint but were certain existed. We’d drive to get coffee in the morning and come late to class after lunch, giggling and carefree because we had earned the right to be mischievous. Now so many of those relationships have changed, corroded by time or embittered by growing pains, gaps in personality too wide to cross.
Not all those friends are lost, though. This — reminding myself of what I do still have — is something I’ve had to practice a lot this year. A family member of mine nearly drank herself to death a few weeks ago because all she could think of were the things she’s lost. She reminds me that I must count the people, the friends, that are still here, that I must focus on the things I can still hold on to.
I remember being in the fifth grade and thinking I was never going to go to prom because “parties aren’t really my thing”. Seven years later, parties still aren’t really my thing, yet I can’t help but yearn and be nostalgic for a time I’ve never experienced, for all the inconsequential and seemingly meaningless high school rite-of-passages. The Senior Trip tradition, the stories of which I’ve only heard and hoped someday to treasure as my own; ordering pie and coffee at 2 a.m. in the Denver Diner prom after-party; creating my own senior project — an arts-major tradition at my school — in the only place besides my home in which I’ve spent the majority of my life. Another major creative writing tradition, the senior-planned field trip; secret and exclusive senior-only activities at Balarat; and so much more. Trivial and insignificant, taken for granted as facts of what was to come until this year. It reminds me that even the smallest of things have the power to make me feel joy, and even amidst loss, I must search for and cherish even the most minor of daily pleasures.
Thinking back on those elaborate fantasies constructed by day-dreamy middle-schoolers, I see a prospective future quite different from the one I’m living in now. If my middle-school self wrote a bucket list of all the things she wanted to do before graduating, I think I’d sorely disappoint her. Yet, despite the awkwardly juvenile and foolish nature of those daydreams, they still have a kernel of truth, a little bit of wisdom for me: each one was simply about being happy, about enjoying the smallest of things I could have, from morning coffee with friends to mischief and tardiness. So, if that’s really all that my senior year was supposed to look like — a catalogue of little delights — then I ought to keep my eye out for them, to catch and hold onto them for as long as I can.
Isabelle Kang is a senior creative writer at Denver School of the Arts. Born in Denver, she has lived in the Sunnyside neighborhood for most of her life