TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2021: Jessie Warren

Meggie Kennedy, for being my literal soulmate.

I’m writing this on the night before it’s due, cramming my thankfulness for people into little boxes marked by their names. Yet, I’m deeply struggling to complete it, mostly because no combination of letters and syllables will ever be able to summarize how indebted to you I am. 

Since we were four years old—playing with farm animals and learning our letters at the same pre-school—you and I have been utterly inseparable. The jade and indigo threads of our lives are woven together into a quilt so thoroughly unbreakable that it has stood the test of time entirely. Within it, the many patterns and designs illustrate who I am and what I’ve become, with you by my side the entire time, our hands latched together. Growing up alongside you has been a treasure, finely wrapped in lavender tissue paper and tied up with pearly string. Yet most of all, we are similar in ways so difficult to discern, and it’s our similarities that mark my mind in memories.

You are my sister in every sense of the word, and knowing that you are always there is what has made the last 13 years of my life what they’ve been. Laughing, crying, and existing in the same orb as you is a gift that I will never, ever be able to reimburse. 

Thank you so much, Meghan Mary. I love you from the bottom of my heart to the tears that are now welling up in my eyes. 

Your mom took this photo of us after our first hike of our Colorado trip, and it is still one of my favorites.

Lauren Batterbee, for matching my energy. 

During the late spring of last semester, I remember you texting me to ask if Mr. George had announced the staff positions for this year yet. After my solemn response that he had not, I asked why you were wondering, and you responded, “Because I think I know what you are going to get.”

You did in fact know, and now—approximately seven months later—our pictures sit side-by-side on the staff page, framed in the same title. 

Trying to figure out the print edition with you has been such a singularly stressful yet beneficial experience. I could not ask for a better colleague and friend, and FaceTiming each other from different time zones to talk about InDesign and plan out fall-themed crossword puzzles has been such a gift. I cannot wait to see what we can do together in the future and to continue following similar patterns of both anxiety and excitement. 

Rachel Marco, for smiling at me in the hallways.

Growing up, we would hang out at least once every month. Our homes practically backed one another’s up, and the story of my life was distinctly imprinted by your presence. Yet, over the years, our consistent sleepovers and late nights began to dissipate, and just this summer, I moved out of the childhood home where we spent innumerable summer days bouncing on my creaky trampoline. 

I deeply miss what our friendship used to be but am still forever grateful for what it has turned into. Seeing you in the halls and exchanging smiles and waves is a shining moment in the usual monotony of my day. Texting and snapping with you after the sun has gone to sleep to rave about our adoration for AP Lit has become a glowing star within the progression of my school week.

I love you to the moon and back times infinity, and I cannot wait for all the future plans we’ve begun outlining. 

Sofia Hargis-Acevedo, for laughing at my jokes, even when they’re stupid. 

I edited your Countless Thanks for you last weekend, and within it, you commented on how I always know what to say to make you laugh. Well, I want you to know that, half the time, I think the jokes that leave my mouth are inherently absurd. 

Yet, you laughing at the things I say has brought me such an innate sense of honor in my ability to make others happy. Being there for you as both a shoulder to cry on and a brain to bounce ideas off of is something I will dearly miss when I no longer see you multiple times each day. 

Sof, I cherish you. Keep being who you are and doing so unapologetically, even when I’m not here anymore to perceive it. 

Us holding hands through Nat’s car windows.

Sydney Race, for being born on June 18th.

Over the past year, you and I have begun to realize just how much we have in common. We both love peculiar internet memes, we harbor a similar adoration for Dr. Pepper and key lime LaCroix, and—most notably—we were both born on June 18th. Our shared sense of humor bounces off of each other so swiftly that talking to you often feels like conversing with my own reflection, and days when you are absent from school or miss part of the meeting stand out in subtle melancholy. 

I am so incredibly thankful that you were born, especially on the same day as I was. 

Allie Beaumont, for not trying, and still being one of the funniest people I know. 

Allison, you are an enigma. Your ability to consistently balance millions of plates on your well-dressed shoulders amazes me each and every day. And even when you hit a roadblock, your inherent optimism and kindness bring comfort not only to yourself, but to all those around you. 

Thank you ever so much for making me laugh until my bones hurt and for occupying the seat next to me with grace and perceptible love. 

Kelsey Dantuma, for being yourself and not apologizing for it.

You and your expansive influence on my life are confusing to anyone who wasn’t there to witness it all unfold. From our elementary school Girl Scout troop to the sapphire landscape of mid-afternoon laughter, you and your confident ability to be yourself inspire me more than words can encapsulate. 

I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express how much I adore you, but I just want you to know that I will always be there. 

Lynlee Derrick, for letting me be your biggest fan.

Sometimes I listen to I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers and get stung by a pang of tears. Because despite the grief I’ve conquered, I’ve never had to wish someone such a permanent goodbye, knowing they would still be out there somewhere. Yet, that’s the note on which I wished you farewell this August, just before you left.

Our friendship formed so swiftly I can hardly recollect how it happened, that is despite the time you called me in a heated sentiment, demanding I tell you where to buy Squishmallows. All I know is that from that moment, we slowly began to realize that we are the same. We both love the same boba tea shop and read the same books—most notably the anthology of Indigenous poetry we ordered simultaneously, entirely without each other’s knowledge. We both adore female rage and statements so veiled in sarcasm you can barely tell if the other is being serious. 

Yet, most of all, you can drive, and I cannot. And during those times when no one else was there to pick me up, you were. 

You were there to get Ding Tea and talk about Sally Rooney novels. 

You were there to watch Fleabag and drink slushies in elementary school parking lots. 

You were there for a fleeting moment that now sits restlessly nostalgic within my brain. 

I miss you more than words can express, yet my gratitude for the space you fill in my life overshadows all of that. Even now, you respond to my late-night texts with genuine care for what I have to say and let me FaceTime you to talk about my irrelevant drama. 

I wish I could hug you, but for now, this will have to do. I love you, Lynlee. Keep doing what you are doing, and keep posting on your private story so I can hear all about it. 

A snapshot from your “going away party”—aka when we decorated a store-bought cake on a park picnic bench. (Lynlee Derrick)

Charlotte, Patrick, and Jaclyn, for being the people who just get it. 

Occasionally—especially after the last two years—I become exhausted having to explain things to people. Pinning down a specific motive or moment in words has transformed into a burden, one I am entirely spent dealing with yet am constantly asked to complete. 

However, looking past the patent sibling annoyance you often inflict, the three of you just get it. You were there for everything just as I was, and you accept who I am and what I can give to the world. You hold me to a standard that has thoroughly prepared me for life, allowing me to sit in as you grow through the experiences that I will one day have to grow through.

Most of all, you listen when I speak and speak when I am quiet, and you never let it become awkward when none of us have anything to say.

Charlotte, you are the person I wanted to be when I grew up. You are the rainbows on your walls and the plants that have meandered their way through the stages of your life. Staying up late to watch Willow and play Sims with you will absolutely never get old, and I cannot express in words all the ways I’d be different if not for you.

Patrick, sometimes you plainly existing makes me cry-laugh uncontrollably, but you don’t let that stop you from being one of the wisest people I know. We handle conflict in eerily similar ways, and gaining your insight on my issues has become a cathartic outlet that I miss when you can’t make it to family dinners or game nights.

Jaclyn, thank you for being so colorfully, vibrantly who you are. I don’t let myself think about if you and Packy never met, because my life and this family without you would be a puzzle with a missing piece.

Thank you all for sticking with me, even though I know you don’t have a choice.

The four of us at Packy and Jaclyn’s wedding this summer.

And to those who bring sunshine to my days…

Mrs. Penninga, for letting me know you’re proud of me at 8 a.m.

For the past month, I’ve been struggling through what is usually a Book Club project entirely by myself, and I think both you and I have picked up on how subtly stressed I’ve been. Yet, when I come to you with an unfinished assignment or five MOTWAAW-less thesis statements scratched onto miscellaneous notecards, you never fail to tell me that you are proud of me.

Even though I’ve enjoyed every moment of Jane Eyre, the knowledge that I’ll be able to converse with you about it the following day is genuinely what’s gotten me through. Not only is your energy and evident passion for your work remarkably commendable, but walking into your room each day is a breath of fresh air that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

Madie, Julianna, and Erynn, for making math enjoyable. 

For as long as I’ve been in school, my brain has been fine-tuned for English and History; math and its various offshoots never have and never will come easily. Yet, each day I walk to Mrs. Post’s room, anticipating that when I get there I’ll be able to see you guys. I think we can all agree that 2nd-hour Concepts of Algebra each day is nothing short of a fever dream, but our conversations bring such joy and relief to the pattern of my day, and I adore each of you for the way you so uniquely make your own way in the world.

My lunch table, for filling my life with pockets of joy. 

Each day I find myself flocking to that round table perched in front of the broad cafeteria windows, waiting for you all to arrive from AP Lit. Emma, thank you for sharing your fruits and vegetables with me when I don’t have anything else to eat. Rylie, thank you for getting in fake fights with me that anyone outside our close-knit circle would perceive as real. Erin, thank you for commenting on the things I say when no one else hears me. Ben, thank you for letting us all jokingly bully you for 30 minutes every weekday. Liv, thank you for talking to me about the things that no one else at the table understands. And Meggie, thank you for almost crying with me about the new season of Queer Eye and saying things that send all of us into uncontrollable fits of laughter.

Sixth hour, TCT, and Taylor Swift’s entire discography, for reminding me of where I belong. 

I’ve talked before about my life as a writer and how the talent has followed me through each stage that I’ve encountered. Yet, this passion never truly found its purpose until Kelsey and Nat convinced me to join The Central Trend

Inventing stories in my brain that never truly come to fruition and writing tidbits of ideas down on journal pages has proven to be far different than the place I’m in now, yet sharing my writing with the world is something that defines me. The insight that others find something in my words—whether it is the message I intended or not—evokes a sense of pride that bubbles up within. However, that’s not the only reason I’ve stayed.

Room 139, its soundtrack, and the people that litter its disparate chairs provide me with a sense of belonging so uniquely fine-tuned to what they are. The Central Trend has given me a landing ground at FHC, one I cannot even fathom leaving in less than seven months. 

To Mr. George, the editors, and all the faces and stories that rest comfortably familiar within my brain, thank you ever so much. Writing may be my one solace, but prose dulls in comparison to the impact you’ve had on my life.

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