I remember you sitting across from me during lunch and complaining to everyone else about the uncalled for English homework. How does the teacher expect us to write a 2 page paper about Hamlet when we have that math quiz to study for? I silently watched everyone pick through their lukewarm lunches and pass around math packets. We would chat about Instagram follower to following ratios and whether or not that deemed our peers to be popular or not. We never used the word “popular” but we just talked about different people on rotation.
I remember how you bragged about being the oldest one in the class, propping your feet up on the desk and whining about how much you wanted to be done with school and especially this class. I wish I could tell you that we all wanted to be done. Sitting in a class about politics in the final months of being a senior in high school was never a good combination. I couldn’t help but flashback to when we ran against each other in middle school for president and I hated you because you took the time and effort to make stickers while I prepped myself for failure.
I remember hearing your voice in French class and thinking that it was a terrible accent, but mine was probably worse. I looked around that class and feeling a strange sense of belonging and annoyance since we’ve stuck together in that class since the middle school days, allowing the burden of school to slowly whittle off the undedicated and leave this group behind. Although, I didn’t go to France with you, so I couldn’t laugh at all the inside jokes.
I remember training with you during track season and watching you round off the 200 meter curve while I was still coming up on the straight 100 meter. Eventually you would learn of my hidden strength, the strength to never stop until I crossed the line even if it meant that I came in last. I heard your strong voice push through my heaving breaths and I put another foot forward.
Most of all, I remember listening and watching to everyone to the point where I felt like I had embodied most of them. I could feel the mood of the school, but I was always seen on the outside. I watched relationships grossly and beautifully unfold, but I also played witness to the groups of friends shielding the couple from each other after a nasty breakup. I listened to the sharp whispers once the teacher left the room for information of what happened over the weekend. I watched the soccer guys stroll down the hall with the soccer girls as they pass me and I grab my books and walk behind them. They were in my class anyways and I always knew who was going to take whomever to prom. But every once in a while, a gap in the dragging conversations would appear and I would drop my classic “one-liners” and shock my classmates to no end. I gained an odd reputation, not enough to have casual check-up conversations but enough to have a good time in that second.