She still lives inside of me


A few of the times I didn’t hate school as much as I think I do.

I used to be the girl who got up extra early on school days because I couldn’t wait to get on the bus, and although I spent over an hour getting yelled at to hurry up and get ready quicker, I wasn’t going slow because I didn’t want to go to school; I was just slow in general. 

I used to be the girl who cried on the last day of school, and judging by the way I acted on the first day, you would think I was getting ready to go on vacation instead of for the third grade. 

I’m not that girl anymore. At least, I don’t claim to be. 

When I say I hate school, never do I mean those brief, incredibly peaceful moments sitting on the Honors English 9 floor with Ella.

Now, I’m the girl who gets up exhausted and early only because I have to finish the homework I didn’t do last night, and when I’m taking too long to get ready in the morning, it’s because I would rather do anything else than spend another seven hours in school. 

Now, I’m the girl that says “no” when someone asks if I’m excited for school to start again after winter break and complains every morning when I have to get in the car. 

I know that it’s normal for high schoolers to hate high school, but sometimes I can’t help but think about how disappointed that little girl would be if she could see me now. 

I miss her.

I miss the girl who rushed to school because she wanted to see her teachers and classmates in the hall every morning; I miss the girl who couldn’t wait to go to math because we were practicing multiplication that day, and she was so good at it that she could show off.

I say I hate school now. 

I spit out those words every morning like black coffee. As if the very idea of school is too bitter for my mind to handle.

I say I hate school now, but I don’t really mean it. 

What I mean is that I’m tired, and I’m sick of having to wake up at 5:30 every morning, and I need a break. 

What I mean is that if the sun would just come up a little earlier in the day, if I could just get this one assignment turned in, if my math grade would just go up 0.03%, I would want to go to school. 

I wish I was still that girl who sat at her desk, wishing she had more homework because she felt so much like her cool older sister when she could scratch a pencil on paper. 

When I say I hate school, I am never talking about the fifteen minutes spent with Addie in the library, just before first hour starts. The fifteen minutes when we talk about irrelevant nonsense and worry about our late assignments. I never mean the way she laughs every time I turn the wrong way down a hallway that I should definitely know by now.

I’m not talking about the borrowed mascara, applied in a rush in the slightly-grimy downstairs bathroom. I’m not talking about the split-seconds in Spanish class when Sr. Silvestre says to join up with a partner, and I know the same person will look at me every day. 

When I say I hate school, never do I mean those brief, incredibly peaceful moments sitting on the Honors English 9 floor with Ella, both pretending to get our work done when neither of us are actually doing anything. 

When I say I hate school, I don’t mean the jokes in Geometry or the pop-tarts that I would starve without in sixth hour. I don’t mean the food I eat for lunch, always coming from someone else’s lunch box. I don’t mean “Are you taking the bus today” or “Literally, hurry up. We’re gonna be late for math.” 

When I talk about how much I wish I didn’t have to leave my house on any given day, the few redeeming moments are the ever-predictable rhythm of Mr. Pierce’s sing-song greeting when he enters the classroom after us and the way I walk past the same people in the hallways every day, without ever learning their names. 

The last few reasons I have for not completely abandoning my love of school are the way Addie ‘Canadian-French braids’ my hair and Ella always taking pictures of it. The remaining threads of adoration are tied around the comfortable cadence of talking to the same people every day, about the same things we have been since seventh grade. 

Three years from now, once I’ve graduated, once I’m done with high school forever, these are the things I will miss. 

I will miss having acquaintances that I see more than my family. I will miss the soothing predictability that comes hand-in-hand with the concept of school. 

I don’t hate school. I might hate some parts of it. I might think that if I ever have to do another POGIL in Biology or Membean session in English, I’ll throw up. But I don’t hate school because the people sitting at my Bio table still make me laugh, and I can always just go sit on the floor with Ella.

That little girl who was always over-eager to get on the school bus is still inside me, and I think she’s closer to the surface than I realize.