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Time for Reminiscing
Do you realize that the present is only a single second squished between the past and future? Once it slips away its gone forever. Its like time is a string of water droplets spinning into an empty wooden bucket. We hurtle along with them, unable to change anything on either spectrum, praying that what we're doing is right in that select moment. And sometimes, after our buckets have filled with water, we look at the reflection of what we've become with irreversible regret.
'Jellybean, don't you care about school?' My father sighed. He took another long glance at my report card; A series of C's and D's penned in dark black ink blanketed the page. I felt like ripping the whole thing up.
It's interesting how those slips of papers filled with letter grades could define my entire high school career. Four years of my life crammed on to a sheet of crisp white paper, filled with irreversible regrets. But I wouldn't let anyone know that. My whole reputation was based on blowing off school. I was that cool kid, a girl who always had a party to go to on Saturday night. I wasn't willing to give that up.
I told dad casually, 'School just isn't an issue for me. I already decided to get a job now that I've graduated.' He shook his head slightly, confirming what I already knew. I had no experience or special talent. My resume was fitting for a fast food restaurant. My whole life was starting to seem like some bad novel with an obvious ending.
Dad's voice droned in through the image of my dreadful future. 'Anyway, before I forget, Jenny called. She invited you to a party tonight. She said that the whole class is coming, so you better get ready for a crazy time,' he mused, eyeing me suspiciously.
'Don't worry,' I assured, 'she just meant that it'll be boring. I mean there are like five hundred people in our class, and we all have to squish in to one house.'
Dad laughed, something he rarely did lately. 'I'd like to see that. Go get ready and I'll drive you over.'
Five hours later: I'm sitting at Jenny's kitchen table. Adam and Elizabeth are sitting next to me, busy quarreling over their rocky relationship. 'I know you made out Kenzie in the gym after graduation! You act like you can just do whatever you want and I won't find out!' Elizabeth screamed, nearly blowing out my eardrum. Adam firmly denied the whole thing, even though I had pictures on my cell phone that would suggest otherwise.
Instead of intervening, I got up and pushed my way outside the overcrowded house. It was refreshingly calm. I sat down on Jenny's front porch and looked up at the stars. It never ceased to amaze me; looking at the stars always made me feel so small and insignificant. It took all my problems away with one quick swoop.
I searched the moonlight night until my eyes landed on Judy Barlow. She was the quintessential nerd in high school. Her only friends belonged to the chess club, and she always skipped school sporting events. Furthermore, she would study during her lunch hour. She'd sit outside with all her textbooks spread out, copying and underlining. The rest of us would stare in disbelief as we smoked cigarettes and drank vodka from plastic cups. When she tried to talk to us, we used to roll our eyes and walk away in disgust.
Tonight was different. I patted the spot next to me, and demanded that she take a seat. She complied without a second thought. We sat in silence for a few minutes, before I said slowly, 'Do you know how lucky you are? I mean, your going to college with a scholarship. You have your whole life ahead of you and mine just ended.'
She stared at me in disbelief for a moment. Then, matching my dreary tone, she replied, 'Yeah, I guess that's alright. But I'll never get back these past four years. All the fun I missed...The supposedly best time of a person's life is like one big nightmare for me. And it will always be that way. I might have a solid future to look forward to, but what good is that when I'll always be hung up on the past?'
We looked at each other with a new sense of understanding. Everything that we'd missed in high school had finally caught up to us. Judy knew that dull pain from years of rejection would never fully subside. Meanwhile I could only be left dreaming about the 'good old days' while I drearily pushed on with the new ones.
We talked for a long while. I advised Judy on her fear of all things social. 'When you get to college, you have to act like you own the place. Be nice to people around you, but restrain yourself at the same time. You have a great personality, and you have to let people chase it a little bit. Don't let them walk all over you.'
She reciprocated by counseling me on school. 'You should apply to community colleges after this year. And build up your interests by taking on a few new activities. If you start now and keep it up, you'll get in to a great four-year college. And I can help you find one, if you want.'
That night everything changed for the better. We were two complete opposites that found common ground in past disappointments. I always saw time as being like water dripping in to a bucket. Some people are stuck looking at the reflection of their lives with regret; they refuse to move forward because they remain stuck in the past. But I see each new drop as an opportunity. The question is whether you want to seize it or not.