I said I wasn't going to do this, but the thing is, I can't not.
It's my last night of being in high school. We went for burgers for dinner, and while the rest of my family was still finishing off their milkshakes, I left to wander around the shopping center. Sometimes I need to be alone. The restaurant was playing the OJ Simpson car chase, and it was making me sad, how confused and convoluted the world can be, so I went for a walk. I climbed on the columns outside the camera shop and sat there, looking out, until a policeman came and told me I had to get down. It was a liability thing, he explained. They didn't want to get in trouble if I fell and hurt myself.
I always like to climb on things, to be high up, and I'm always moving fast so I often scrape myself in the process. Today alone, I gave myself a paper cut and got a bright red gash on the back of my thigh from when my sister threw our cat on me. I dabbed at it with water until the napkin was stained more red than my skin.
It's my last night of being in high school, and I said I wasn't going to do this, but I couldn't not. I was sitting on the ledge and I was looking out at the past four years right in front of me. There was the pizza place we went to at my friend's birthday party in freshman year. There's the Walmart we stopped at this New Year's Eve to buy firecrackers, only to find they didn't have any. There's the movie theater where I saw Catching Fire, and the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Ponyo, so long ago. There's my family's favorite Indian restaurant. There's the Tigermart of my friends' legends -- it's not a Tigermart anymore, though. There's the streets that lead to school, and there's the ones that lead home.
I'm home now and reading something my friend wrote about this very feeling -- the 'being on the precipice of leaving everything behind' feeling. Sometimes I get stupid but when I think about a different life my throat hurts. My eyes are wet. Don't look at me. High school is over and that's cool. High school is over and I want to die. I'll settle for something in between.
I'm excited for college, don't get me wrong, but right now, tonight, I'm in mourning. This is my valediction to high school -- to skipping class to go to H-E-B and Jamba Juice, to early morning carpool blasting rap music, to our lunchtime group in that little corner by the library. To crying in the bathroom about the future, to class periods spent taking selfies and online shopping, to those times we'd stay after track practice just to talk and stretch. To making faces at people in the hallways, to sneaking into hotel pools just to dip my feet in, to misunderstandings that make your blood boil and make you slam doors. To all those late nights writing papers and working on projects, late start breakfasts, karaoke nights, picnics in the park, football games, flashcards, acquaintances who became friends, funny teacher stories, field trips planting trees, signing yearbooks, riding the school bus, camping in backyards, lab partners, college applications, driving home late at night with the car quiet except for the music, Coffeehouse, everything everything everything. Goodbye to all of it.
Maybe this would have been easier if I had been asleep, she said.
Maybe then it wouldn't hurt so much.
But maybe then it wouldn't hurt so good, either.