It was a pretty surreal, awe-inspiring moment to be standing on a beautiful Holland beach, before a beautiful Michigan sunset, surrounded by almost my entire class.
I suppose that’s what the annual senior retreat is good at. All that talk about class unity and team bonding activities, and we all get so caught up in angsty teenage cynicism, grumbling about the lunacy of it all. Then, all of a sudden, moments like that creep up. Pure, unadulterated moments of simplicity and tranquility. There was no homework, and there were no college apps, and there were no looming, unknown futures. Just a bunch of kids having fun on the beach. All these kids that I know in a way that I will never know anyone else. Kids I’ve known since preschool or since Central Woodlands or since meeting on the bus on the way to the retreat that morning.
I couldn’t help but feel that bond, that thread binding us all together, that everyone had so raved about. We dragged ourselves to breakfast at 7 am together, sweated through 85-degree weather together, and counted mosquito bites like hairs on our head together. If years of grueling school work hadn’t bonded us yet, this surely did.
For such a soothing moment, with everyone kicking up sand and the sun bidding us goodbye, I was harshly dragged back to reality. The sky was turning all sorts of dazzling colors, showing off just for the occasion, and it was then that I realized the sun was also setting on a period of my life that will never be replicated. 13 years of schooling in the same place in the same town with the same people. Yet just like that, we’re all on the cusp of a sharp split, preparing for our flight into the real world.
FHC and all these kids have been a pillar of my childhood, a constant in a rarely constant world. So, to truly realize that constant is about to lose its status as a “constant,” was jarring, to say the least.
I felt the ache of that loss, that hasn’t even entered my life yet, in the moments of splashing around in the lake, listening to my class croon to shamelessly sad songs, and dancing like no other in a sweltering church.
I couldn’t help but relish in the luck of it all. How lucky we all were to steal away a few more precious memories. How lucky we all were to have grown up in such a safe haven, one that so graciously allowed us these moments.
What a pleasure it has been, indeed.