As graduation comes near, I have filled nearly every block in my schedule with events. I’ve needed to purchase more clothes to accommodate the frequency at which I will need to dress up.
With back-to-back formal events, it feels as though we are making up for a year of lost time. Due to quarantine, I have not worn formal attire in almost two years. This schedule is typical for end-of-year seniors, though I often find myself opening my planner a bit too often out of excitement.
Having a filled calendar gives me something to look forward to each day or week. Even if it’s just a final exam, that day has something written on it. My school planner is running out of pages, and the schedule has grown so long that I may need to purchase next school year’s calendar early.
With all of these plans, I hope that the blank days following graduation will not feel empty. I have plans for the summer as well as college to attend, though, while I look forward to the break, I plan to enjoy every day of this busy May.
I can’t wait to leave you behind and move on and climb a new mountain, make a new place my new home. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss you.
It’s crazy to think that a couple years ago you were nothing to me but three letters. Just another place in another country in another town that I had never even heard of. Now, your little green campus means the whole world to me.
You taught me to be happy on my own, you taught me to be sad and to think. You taught me English, you taught me how to write. You taught me how to love and to hate and how to cut people out of my life for my own good and how hard and nearly impossible that can be. You taught me to speak up and to find my voice, just like you taught me how to listen and be there for the people around me.
You’ve also taken a lot from me. You’ve taken my last four years of living at home. You’ve nearly taken one of the best friendships I’ve ever had and you’ve taken a part of my home country from me. You’ve taken my feeling of absolutely belonging anywhere at all.
But, then again, maybe that is just a part of growing up, a process that you so conveniently sped up for me and now I can move along with that advantage. I thank you for that.
I am ready to keep going and keep moving just like you’ve been telling me to do. But I’ll miss you.
I’ll miss your oak trees and pink afternoon hills. I’ll miss your lunch lines and movie nights, your encouraging words and worthless meetings. I’ll miss the people you’ve brought into my life. I’ll miss the rooms that we’ve lived in and the road up the hill we all hate. I’ll miss your flaming hot skies and succulents and I’ll miss your stars, your beautiful stars. I’ll miss your tired breakfast conversations, your van rides and the songs we’ve belted on them. It’s really been a wild couple of years.
I’ve started this draft several times. I’ve written sentences and sentences only to change them, revise them, and, eventually, just completely eradicate them and end where I started: with nothing. Because every time I try to write about this, I can’t formulate the right words to say. Even though I’ve discovered at OVS that one of my biggest passions is writing, I’m speechless when I try to write about what these last four years meant to me.
When I came to OVS for the first time, I was an awkward freshman. I had no friends, no idea what I was doing, and no idea who I was or who I wanted to be.
The four years to follow threw me in for a loop of highs and lows in self development, friendships, and life. Now I have just a couple days until the craziest, most amazing four years of my life come to an end. Every year at this time, I had a strong desire for the days to end as quickly as possible so I could enjoy my summer break. This time, I’m scared for the inevitable last day of school to come. I’m holding on to every last second I can.
I’ve been to three graduations here. Every single one making me sadder than the rest, but there was always happiness in my heart when I’d hug my friends goodbye for the summer, especially because I knew I’d see them again. On May 31st, I’ll hug all my friends, but, when fall rolls around, I won’t see them again on the hill that’s been my second home for the past four years. We’ll all be scattered across the country taking on different cities and pursuing different passions. We won’t see each other at breakfast every morning or at the barn at the end of every day. We’ll see each other through FaceTime calls and at reunions during our holiday breaks. I’m bound to cry at graduation because of it all.
I’m happy we’re all going to colleges we want to go to and I know that these friends are the ones I’ll have for life. But the realization that this is our last week as high schoolers together is still sending a wave of shock over me that I’ve been drowning in the past couple weeks.
I’m horrified for what the future holds, but, at the same time, I feel so ready. Four years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be ready for college and eight years ago I didn’t have any faith that I would even be going to college. Now, I’m excited to walk into the unknown and I have OVS to thank for it all:
For being a school that’s given me the opportunity to branch out and try everything I could ever want to try. I didn’t have to stick to one niche. I got to be a risk-taking athlete, an unfiltered writer, a confident leader, and everything in between.
The equestrian program for giving me a horse I love more than myself. For giving me a place I’ve made my best friends.
The camping trips where I went running through the Yosemite forests at night time with no flashlight and rode the bull of the raft while river rafting on the Kern trip. For making me push my limits and having them turn out to be the most rewarding moments of my life. For making me realize I love camping even though I hate going days without showering.
For my AP Spanish class making me fall in love with the language all over again and decide to study abroad in Spain instead of France. Law/Gov class that furthered my excitement to move to D.C. to study politics and intern on Capitol Hill. Especially for my journalism class that provided a source of gossip, a place to rant, and an endless supply of snacks, but more importantly, it has given me an outlet to explore writing and inspire me to pursue it in college.
Thank you for everything. For the good, the bad, and everything in between. No words could say it all.
I’m not gonna lie and say this school is perfect. There’s so much I’ve complained about and so many things I would change. But if I’m going to be honest, it was perfect for me. It was the place I needed for the kind of person I was to become who I am today. I had no idea what my purpose was or what my passions were and, while I’m still on a road of self-discovery, OVS put me on the right path.
I like coffee now. I used to always think it tasted like fancy dirt water, no matter how much milk and sugar I’d put in it.
But, I really like it now. I like the deep, bitter taste of it and I especially like the smell of it.
I’m starting to like a lot of those things that I used to consider “adult things”. I like watching the news or reading articles on whether or not organic eggs are better than regular eggs. I like having red wine with my dinner (only when I’m in Germany, I promise). I like waking up early on the weekends, to get as much out of my day as possible, and even take in a pastel sunrise once in a while.
I guess I’ve waited for this period in my life for a long time now. I always imagined that when I’d graduate, I’d essentially be an adult. I’d be mature and responsible. I’d be a little taller at least and my skin would have cleared up and I would know how to do taxes.
Truth is, I’m still getting there. Maybe I won’t grow any taller and maybe I’ll need to work on my maturity a bit, but I’m on the right track. I’m transitioning, I guess.
All this is what I’ve been waiting for, and it’s exciting. But, I like coffee now and it makes me sad, because I realize that, soon, I won’t be able to be a kid anymore.
I’m graduating in less than 18 weeks. 18 weeks seem like a long time, but, when I think about all the things I will be doing from now until may 31st, it suddenly isn’t that far away anymore.
I haven’t gotten a single college acceptance yet. I haven’t gotten rejected, either, but that only means that I’m just as far away from knowing where I want to go next year as I was two months ago.
In a few weeks, I’ll be performing in my last ever musical here. I’ll be going on my last ever ski trip with this school. I’ll be going to my last ever prom, probably without a date. I’ll be playing at my last ever talent show (with no talent, still), and I’ll be going to my last ever OVS graduation, but this time it’s mine.
I’ll be walking down the stairs, sit lined up with my classmates on stage, get my diploma, and then that’s it. That’ll be the end of my past four years that were such an important chapter in my life and that contributed to so much of my personality. That’ll be it.
But, before that happens, there are so many more weekends to spend watching movies in the lounge, many more camp trips to go on and freeze my a** off, many more mental breakdowns over tests and AP’s to endure, horse shows to go on, story deadlines to miss, town trips to spend at Bliss getting frozen yogurt, sunsets to watch from the soccer field, and memories to make.
I won’t lie and say that this school and my life here is perfect. There are many things that I would like to change, but I don’t want to get into that now. Because there are so many more things that I am thankful for. Again, my time here hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been amazing. And in 18 weeks, it’ll be over, that’ll be it. And then, it’s time for another chapter.
When I think about May 31st, 2019, I think about what I’m leaving behind when I walk across the amphitheater to get my high school diploma.
I’m leaving behind the campus I’ve called my home the past four years, the classes where I challenged myself and found my passions, and the teachers who helped me find those passions. I’m leaving behind my friends, who I won’t see at breakfast every morning or go on camping trips with anymore.
These last four years weren’t always easy. As much as I’ve loved them, they were some of the most challenging years of my life. But, one thing made life away from home just a little easier to manage and it wasn’t my teachers or friends.
It was my horse. A bay, appendix quarter horse named Time who I’ve been riding since my freshman year. My family always asks me what I’ll miss the most about OVS when I leave and the answer is always the same: Time.
When the Thomas Fire came on December 4th, 2017, I panicked as we were evacuating on the bus thinking my horse wasn’t going to make it out alive. I cried myself to sleep, despite the constant reassurances. Over the summer, I ended up crying again when I went three months without riding and, more specifically, without riding Time. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I have to say goodbye to him during the last week of school knowing that it’ll be the last goodbye. Knowing hat I won’t be getting back on once summer is over. Knowing that one day, towards the end of May, I will untack for the last time and possibly never get back on him. That, the following September, he’ll get a new rider and I’ll be at a university in a completely different city. I hope that rider loves that freaking horse as much as I do, though. Sometimes I wonder if that’s possible.
So many things happened the last four years with Time by my side. I went with him to my first horse show, on my first horse camping trip, my first dressage clinic, and my first injury, which he gave me after he threw me off at said horse show. Even though I got a fractured back, the story was still funny and memorable.
I can imagine leaving OVS and going off to college, but I can’t imagine leaving Time. I can’t imagine my school day not consisting of me going to the barn at the end of the day and getting on him whether the lesson ends up going well or not. I wish I could take him with me to college, but it’s probably not possible.
Last Friday, my aunt and uncle came to watch me ride. “I don’t understand how some people just let go of their horses or sell them,” my aunt said. “They’re pets too.”
Time may have not be mine legally, but he is mine. At least, I like to say he is and, at least, many other people thought Time was mine before I told them he wasn’t. But, he is my horse. The horse I’ve ridden for all of high school and the animal I’ve developed a bond with.
I’m not ready to let Time go, but I’ll have to and I will. Even if it might be one of the most painful things I’ll ever have to do.
When I stepped into my first class at the beginning of freshman year, senior year seemed so far away.
Now, I just survived my first week of being a senior and too many realizations hit me at once.
That, at the end of the year, I won’t be sitting on the bleachers watching my friends from higher grades graduate. This time, I’ll be the one walking on the stage to receive my diploma that I worked so hard to get over my high school years.
But, it’s only the beginning of the year. There’s still so much to anticipate. So much to go through.
The countless college applications and dreadful Saturday mornings I’ll spend doing the SAT until I get the perfect score so I can get into the perfect college. The ideas for my senior project that I still can’t choose, because I don’t even have one in mind. What my prom dress will look like, or even my graduation dress.
It’s only the beginning of my final year at OVS. It’s the beginning of the end of my high school experience.
It hurts knowing at the end of the year I’ll have to say goodbye to everything I’ve known. To my friends and teachers, to my horse, and to the small town and smaller school that has been my second home.
But, I’m still hopeful that this will be an amazing year, and maybe my days at OVS will only be in my memories and I’ll be living a completely different life, but I’ll still remember them as the most important times in my life.
Thirteen years is a long time for a seventeen year old – and I have been here for thirteen years.
I’ll be honest there is certainly a dissociative sense of gladness that I’ll finally be seeing a change of scenery, a change in pace. It is easy to say, “God am I glad to be moving on,” it is easy to think that I’m ready and really don’t care all that much. It is easy to look at these past thirteen years and think of only the things I’m ready and willing to give up.
It is not easy however to look back on the past four years, the past seven, all the years and think of all that I’m leaving behind. It is not easy to leave with honesty, with neither hell nor rose tint. I won’t say that the past years, high school in particular were perfect – I have nothing to compare them to, I won’t say they were terrible either – they weren’t.
It’s odd to think about, even odder to try to put into words the sort of feelings I have about moving onto the next part of whatever future awaits me, because in part there is a sort of cold readiness to just leave but in equal part there is a desperate need to hold on, to dig my heals in, to continue to put my nose to the grindstone so I don’t feel the inevitable sense of loss.
It is undeniable that who I am is inescapably tied to these past years and I wonder everyday if I have the strength to untether myself from that. All my heart strings are tangled up and confused as to what to do in these last days – run as fast as I can home where I can rest and pretend like I’m already gone or stick around and grow melancholy realizing that it is the last time that I will be as I am where I am – realizing that these are the last moments for me to see my teachers as the teachers whose classes I used to know I would inevitably show up in again next year, sleep deprived and more than a little black-mooded.
Is it strange that I feel so much and nothing at all? Is it weird that I can’t find it in myself to reminisce like a bad made for TV movie with an even worse soundtrack? Is it weird that I can’t find the strength to tell my friends that I love them now in case we naturally fall into radio silence? Is it weird that I can’t find the ability to say thank you to the teachers who have built me?
I’m not sure how to put it all together. How to show the the people who deserve my thanks and love just how thankful I am and how much love I have for them. I’m not sure how to say goodbye to the place and people who have been my entire world for 76% of my life. Thirteen years is a lot of “stuff” and people to say goodbye to and I don’t think I’ll ever really be ready for that, but in three days I will have to anyway.
It is not a goodbye forever but it is a forever goodbye to the safety and essence of what those years have been.
I almost inevitably will cry June 1, I’m not ready for that. On June 1, even if I don’t say it outright, I hope that everyone from the past thirteen years understands that I am eternally thankful and that, selfishly, it may hurt me too much to try to say it to their faces.
So let me say it now, in the likely event that I can’t say it later:
Thank you for all the years, for the good, the mediocre, the not so good, for everything.
I suppose this is the end. My last blog. The last post I write, and the last one I publish. The last piece of writing I do for Ojai Valley School – the place that has taught me how to write.
I came to school my freshman year having written essays before, but only formal, structured pieces for English class. I’ve always been one to write down my thoughts – I carry around a journal and have always documented my raw emotions. But before coming to OVS, I had never shared my writing with others.
Freshman year, I sat down in my first Humanities class, unaware of the flood of writing to come. Reading journals galore, I had little blurbs of writing due once or twice a week. Those reading journals were analytical, but they allowed me to delve into my thoughts and share my own interpretation of the material – something I had never done for school before.
And I think those reading journals, back in freshman year Humanities, bridged the gap between writing for myself and writing for school. And that allowed me to delve into Journalism, which introduced me to writing for others.
Fast forward four years. Here I am, at the end of senior year. Freshman year, I learned the value of my own thoughts in writing. And sophomore year, when I started taking Journalism, I truly learned the wonder of writing. I found my voice, and learned how to tell stories. I learned how to paint pictures of other people’s accomplishments and what goes on around campus. I learned to blog – to write metaphorically, and to eloquently share my deepest, most honest emotions. I truly learned to put my thoughts into words, and to fearlessly share them with the world.
So, again, here I am, writing my last blog post. I have written all sorts of blog posts over the past three years – ones that are funny, sad, sarcastic and honest. And now I have to wrap it up. This is the last thing I will write this year, for any class. The last bit of work I do before I graduate, the last bit of work I do in high school.
That’s pretty crazy.
Today is Wednesday, May 31st. On Friday, June 2nd, I graduate. I’m beyond excited, but also terrified. It doesn’t feel real. I always knew I’d get to this point, but now that I’m here it’s hard to grasp. It’s hard to believe that it’s me. I’m about to graduate high school. I’m about to be in college.
I can’t believe I made it. I know that’s a cliché thing to say, but I really mean it. These past four years have been pretty hectic. But here I am. T minus two days and I’ll be walking across the stage.
And I can’t wait.
I’m sad to be leaving – OVS has done so much for me and I’m going to miss it. All my friends, all my teachers, they’re going to be hard to leave. But OVS has prepared me well for college, and now I’m ready to move forward.
So goodbye and thank you to OVS, to Journalism, and all the writing I’ve done here. It’s the end of an era, and a great one too.
You know that people will be leaving, projects are due, and so is all the school work from the past few months that you’ve hidden under your bed in denial. So I find myself strangely lonely, isolated even.
But I’m ready for summer, and my introvert battery needs a recharge. You’d think being “isolated” now would help, but it’s different.
Right now I’m isolated by work and change, in summer – recharge mode – I am isolated by choice and enjoyment of being alone. It’s different.
Given the choice, I would skip the entire last two months of school, jump straight into summer and then into the new school year. But alas there are the last two months.
I don’t really like change, and maybe that’s why I isolate myself – at least I think it’s a self driven isolation. I hope it is, because the alternative option is that no one likes me. But that’s beside the point. I don’t like change because it takes me a long time to warm up to anything, and change is like a bucket of ice water on what tolerance and comfort I build up.
I’m not saying change is bad, I’m just saying I don’t like it. On top of that, I hate goodbyes. They’re often mushy and huggy and declarative, definite, final.
The end of the year approaches, and I feel kinda lonely and things are changing, fast.