Quadratic Equations

July 31, 2017
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I really want to write about a moment I had today, July 28th, 2017. The day before your best friend's 15th birthday and the day something finally clicked. To write about this moment, I need to give some background. 

    You were supposed to learn about quadratic equations during your freshmen year. As you're well aware, freshmen year wasn't a good one. During your freshmen year, you were enrolled in online school. No matter how many hours you tried to teach yourself that darned equation, it never clicked.

    You cried over quadratic equations because you ended up tying it up with everything else that was going wrong. Apparently, quadratic equations are a big part of 9th-grade algebra, and you ended that year with a 78. You ended the year with a 78 and a comment saying it was above average for the school. 

    Flash forward to today at the end of your 3rd week at Charter. Your morning was dull really, a morning of kind greetings and an odd art class with an odd art teacher. As you left the class, you threw an arm around Coy's shoulders as you usually do. 

You also said that you were tired and he copied back. It was 9 am and we're teenagers. Of course, we were tired. 

    "Can we just go to the back and nap?" you had asked in a strained voice. When you referred to back, you meant the back room. The back room was usually used for kids who needed actual silence. You had only gone back there for your photography class and a brief project for Mr. Carter's class. The back room had beautiful pianos as well as elongated bookshelves. It also had a quite old, yet quite comfortable couch. 

    But we had been approaching Coy's next class, Environmental Science with Ms. Torres. "No, no, we can't." he laughed and took away his arm. He pushed you toward where you needed to go and there you went. 

    All of the classrooms at Charter are open. No real doors or completely built up walls. Your art class was the most closed in, practically a garage. Your most open classes, however, were your American Literature and Algebra 2 classes. Your seat in Algebra 2 was situated to where your back faced the open hallway and to your left you could see the open lunchroom, or what was usually called the "middle". 

    So you sat in your chair, pulling out your composition book and scraping your nails against the paint left on your hands. Izzy usually sat to your left, but as her quinceanera was the following day she wasn't to be seen. It was alright though. You may've been isolated at SEB, but you're sociable at Charter.   

    Your teacher then started handing out the guided notes for the day, and at seeing the title, your brain froze. There atop the freshly printed paper the words "Quadratic Equations" greeted you. It made you just want to go home. Colton had a free period, and he had a car. If you leaned out to the hallway far enough, you could see him twirling a pencil in the middle. It seemed perfectly logical. 

    You pushed that down though, because earlier that very week, you had nearly cried with Coy over your freshmen year. You had told him everything about it. Breaking down at SEB, the Center, Online School. You told him all of it, and it hit you that you weren't over it. You were doing better, but for some reason, it only reminded you of when you were worse. 

    You need to push past your freshmen year. And to push past freshmen year is to push past quadratic equations. So you steadied your hands, greeted the boy across from you, and started to take down the notes. 

    On paper, quadratic equations had always made sense. That wasn't the problem and it had never been. It had been about actually making the ends meet. So when the notes were done and you were left with a question to answer before you could leave, you felt rigid. 

    x^2 - 6x - 25 = 0 was the equation that lay before you. How hard could one problem be? 

    Plugging in the numbers had also never been the problem. You knew what was A, B, and C. 

    You also knew your square roots and what you were meant to do when. Part of what made you cry over quadratic equations was that you never knew where you had gone wrong. Everything had seemed to go right, and you had always been sure of your final answer. But it had never been right. 

    You casually told the boy across from you, Ryan, about how online school had been in terms of algebra. You made it light, comical. You couldn't bring yourself to explain that your failure with quadratic equations had linked to your life's problems that year. So you and Ryan rallied. 

    After what felt like forever, but was probably only 5 minutes, you had an answer. Your answer matched with Ryan's, and god you needed this to be right. You raised your hand high, gesturing for your teacher to check your weightful answer. 

    On your paper lay (2.8, 0) and (-8.8, 0). 

    You had a kind teacher, so you knew even if it was wrong she could lessen the blow. When she looked over your paper, time felt like it was freezing. When she nodded, your heart swelled. You felt ridiculous for feeling like you could cry happily over a math problem, but it was okay. 

    She dismissed you and you went to the middle. You looked around for anyone you had bonded with to hug. You felt ecstatic, shaky, free. It hadn't quite hit you what this was going to link in your mind. You just wanted a goddamn hug. 

    You had forgotten that Luke had a free period, but you found him working in one of the booths. His headphones were on, but you knew that was a ploy for people to leave him alone. You dropped your books and yours and Coy's table and ignored the ploy. 

    Luke already knew about freshmen year. Luke's first real conversation with you had started with him not wanting you to think he was a bad guy. He had admitted what he had gone through, and you couldn't help but do the same. So when you sat across from him with all of your shaky joy and told him what you had accomplished, he knew it was something to be proud of. 

    You weren't sure of Luke's position on hugs, so you said that you were trying to find Coy for a hug. He gave you a sidelong look and slid out of the booth, saying that he was perfectly capable of giving you a hug. There was no way he could know what that meant to you. 

    So you slid out of his booth, and he held open his arms. You went into his arms, and you were content. He was warm and soft and wonderful. You felt his hand in the end of your hair as he pulled away. He gave you a grin, telling you he needed to turn something in and that he was happy for you. He walked away and your crush inevitably multiplied.

As Luke left, you saw Coy enter. You had noticed that Coy always seemed to have a hop in his step, and it was ever present as he looked around for you. You ended his search by walking up to him yourself. He threw an arm over your shoulders as you started to explain what happened. 

    Yes, Coy knew about freshmen year, but he doesn't quite understand how little things like quadratic equations can link something in your brain. Coy, however, can definitely understand you being happy. 

    He gave you what most would consider a bear hug and swayed you back and forth. You still aren't sure how he's capable of practically burying you in his arms when he only has 2 inches on you. You also couldn't bring yourself to care. 

    He kept an arm around your shoulders as we wandered over to Jordin and Colton. Jordin and Colton are seniors and the fact that they actually want to be your friend is still insane to you. Jordin's kind and likes to call herself your mother because you vaguely mentioned that your parents aren't great. Colton keeps forgetting that you're 16 and a sophomore because you keep having to keep him from doing dumb stuff. 

    They also didn't quite get why quadratic equations were a big deal, but happy is happy. Jordin does hug like a mother now that you think about it. It's really nice actually. Colton, however, is the boniest person you'll probably ever meet, but he loves hugs just as much as you do. 

    Jackson would come and get really excited for you and kinda hit your head when he went to hug you and apologize profusely, but honestly, it was completely fine. It was then that the 5 of us formed this sort of circle. You know the one. That circle that proves that this is a friendship, that actual conversation is happening. That circle somehow managed to make you happier than the quadratic equations did. 

    You felt connected. You've felt connected to friends, of course, you have, but this was different. You felt connected to a place, and you haven't felt that since I don't know when. You ended up looking around and the people didn't feel vague. That circle, 3 weeks into the school year, gave you something you had never had. 

    You never felt like you were part of SEB, and god knows you didn't at online school. It hadn't clicked when you were playing a game with your entire World History class and you felt comfortable enough to argue. It hadn't clicked when those seniors called you cool. It hadn't even clicked when Coy had hugged you the day before and walked around calling you his 'best friend in the world'. 

    But it clicked in that circle after you finally understood quadratic equations. There's still plenty of work to do, believe me, but it finally clicked. There's still plenty of anxiety, and you still have that weight in your brain, but you have this. And this means so much. 

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