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I slowly open my eyes as I’m blinded by the sunlight that creeps through my white shutters that cover nearly the entire north wall. I reluctantly turn over my thick, warm, light-gray and blue striped comforter. and hop off my bed onto the fuzzy, dark blue rug on the floor.
The alarm finally stops.
I scrunch my toes as I quickly inhale and stretch out my entire body until I can’t take it anymore before I relax my muscles and release a very heavy sigh.
“Alexa, what time is it?”
I ask to make sure I woke up at the right time.
“The time right now is 6:31 AM,” my Alexa responds.
I take my coffee out of the fridge that my dad made for me before he left for work early in the morning. I’m always grateful when I see that coffee – opening the fridge, the bright white light shining right in my eyes everyday, and grabbing out a glass cup full of sugar and caffeine. As I drink my coffee, I scroll through Tik Tok and Instagram and check Snapchat. I find Whatsapp on the last page of apps on my phone to see how my brothers (who both currently live in Europe) did on the daily Wordle. Josh got today’s word in three guesses and Matthew got it in four. We like to keep score; it’s our way of staying connected while we’re thousands of miles apart. Then I do the Wordle. I got it in four guesses. Josh never loses. I head back to the kitchen to make myself breakfast. The same breakfast everyday. Egg and cheese burrito. Pan on the stove, heat on, spread some butter, crack two eggs, salt, pepper, a handful shredded cheddar cheese, stir, stir, stir. Get a different pan, heat on, slap the uncooked tortilla down, wait. The eggs finish, heat off on the eggs, flip the tortilla. The tortilla is done. I grab it and move onto a paper plate as I burn my fingers. Scrape the eggs onto the tortilla and wrap it up into a burrito. I snarf my food down quickly before I head back towards my room down the hall but take a left instead of a right into the bathroom. Just as I finish my egg burrito, I turn on the shower to let the water warm up, and while it does I use the toilet and brush my teeth. Today is a shampoo and conditioner day. I use shampoo once every three days and conditioner every day. After I hop out of shower, I do my hair and put on deodorant. Dry off, clothes on – underwear, shorts, left sock, right sock, shirt, shoes, jacket – in that order. Pack my school bag and soccer bag, fill up my water bottle. Whew. My daily morning routine. The first day of school. Not sure if I'm excited or nervous. I say goodbye to my mom before I go out the garage and unlock my 2016 gray Toyota Camry. It’s the perfect temperature outside. I check the weather app on my phone: 72° and cloudy. I start the engine and head to school. I don’t even bother listening to music, just stupid talk shows and podcasts on the radio about people cheating on their significant others.
Traffic wasn’t too bad today. Got to school in a respectable 23 minutes, as I parked just in time for first period with two minutes left to spare before the bell rings at 8am. As I head towards the front gate of school, I reflect on how much I enjoy those 23 minutes (give or take a few) driving to school. Peace and quiet, zoning out, blasting music in the car, the white noise of the engine and the soothing bumps of the car on the road.
The first day of school. I head towards my first class of the day. English. I find the seat in the back row that my best friend, Petey, saved for me.
“Hey what’s good Coop, how you been, how was your summer?”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah yeah, dude, as if I didn’t LITERALLY see you just yesterday, haha.”
I slump down into my chair while my teacher, Mr. Carpenter, passes out the syllabus.
Mr. Carpenter teaches English III and English IV. He is a fairly young guy, maybe early-mid 30s, but I’m not exactly sure.
“Hi everyone! Welcome back! I hope you all had a great summer. As you’re already seniors and I don’t believe we have anyone new in this class, you all know each other’s names already. If you wouldn’t mind, can we please go in a circle and have everyone share one fun thing they did this summer.”
“Uh, sure, I got to level 100 on Fortnite for season 7,” Dewy says as the whole class chuckles.
“Thank you, Mr. Wilson,” Mr. Carpenter says, shaking his head jokingly disapprovingly.
I zoned out what most of the people in my class said other than my friends.
“I went skiing down south with the boys, so that was pretty fun.”
“Benny, I literally watched you wipe out on your ass dude,” Petey promptly replies.
The whole class laughs.
“Watch your language, please, Mr. Miller.”
Mr. Carpenter raises his eyebrows at Petey.
“My bad, Mr. C.”
“Mr. Cooper, what did you do this summer?”
“Uh, not too much, just hung out with the guys mostly and played soccer. I did go to a few summer league basketball practices though, but I kinda suck.”
“Good for you Mr. Cooper, trying new sports is always good for you. And last but certainly not least, what did you do over summer break, Mr. Miller?”
“Oh man, what did I do? I played Fortnite, FIFA, COD, hit the gym. You already know I’m tryna get swole for the season. You know I’m bulking right now, Mr. C? Gotta get huge, then I’ll cut and get mad lean, ya feel?”
“Yes, Mr. Miller, I’m not sure that I feel, but I actually think I do understand what you’re saying. I, too, hit the gym quite a bit this summer, and lost nearly 15 pounds.”
The whole class applauds him. “Thank you everybody, really, I just try to stay in shape. Anyway, enough about me, let’s get started, shall we?”
Mr. Carpenter gets out of his desk chair and walks to his desk, picking up a stack of papers. He hands one to everyone in the class and then sits back into his desk chair at the front of the classroom.
“Welcome, everyone, to English IV,” he says excitedly. “In front of you all is the syllabus for the class this year…average of 30 minutes of homework…discussions, projects…”
His words faded into nothingness as I zone out and nearly fall asleep.
“Alright you all, do any of you have any questions?”
No one raises their hands.
“Great, well, there’s not too much more time left in class, so do you all want to play a game?”
Everyone likes that idea.
“Mr. Carpenter, can we do a Kahoot?”
“I think that’s a great idea, Mr. Miller. What do the rest of you think?”
“Yeah let’s do a Kahoot,” Dewy says.
“Agreed,” from Benny.
Other people chime in affirmatively.
“Okay, let’s do a grammar Kahoot.”
Mr. Carpenter slowly rises from his desk chair and heads back to his desk in the far left corner of the room from the door. He turns on the projector. The projector makes some funky sounds as the bulb warms up and on the whiteboard, the Kahoot screen is displayed.
“Please make your Kahoot name different from your actual one, please,” Mr. C says energetically, “Let’s make the winner a mystery!”
“Class code: 492847,” it says in thick white font at the top of the computer screen.
We all join one after the other. “Big Chungus” pops on the screen and I immediately turn my head towards Petey, who, in turn, looks directly at me, before we both burst into laughter.
“What is so funny over there in the corner?”
“Oh, nothing Mr. C, just a joke from outside of class,” I reply.
The game starts.
The rest of the game goes by in a blurr. After about ten minutes, the bell rings, and Mr. Carpenter walks to the front of the classroom to address us before we get dismissed.
“Thank you all very much for your enthusiasm and participation today. Welcome back to school, I hope this class was as fun for you as it was for me, and have a great day. You’re all dismissed!”
“Thank you Mr. C” echoes in the room as we all bottleneck at the door.
Now it’s break time. Dewy, Benny, Petey, and I all walk over toward the cluster of lockers on the other side of campus. We all take out our lunch boxes crammed in our lockers, filled to the brim with random papers and objects over the course of our three years of high school. My snack is a Cliff Bar. Dewy pulls out a bag of Cheez-Its, Benny a bag of potato chips, and Petey a bag of pretzels with a small container of hummus. We all eat our snacks and talk about the NBA offseason and transfers, the start of the NFL season that starts up in two weeks, and various other sports leagues, results, games, and news. It’s always entertaining. I’m more of a soccer guy myself, but I’m starting to learn about the other sports that we talk about every day. For the past couple months or so, I’ve been watching all of the sports I can on the weekends and after school. After break time we head to second block. I step into the classroom and admire the new artwork on the walls of the room. New flags, posters, books on the shelf, pictures above Ms. Garcia’s computer, and other various new decorations hanging from the ceiling and walls. I peek at the clock. The time is exactly 9:54 in the morning. Second block. History. Last year I learned about Europe after World War II. I hated that class. This year is supposed to be about all of U.S. History. Hopefully this class is better than last year. My only friends in this class are Dewy and Benny.
“Well that class was fun,” Dewy says sarcastically as we all head back to our lockers to grab our lunches.
“Oh yeah, soooo fun,” I reply.
“Bruh, I’m gonna kill myself if every class is like THAT this week,” Benny says.
“It won’t,” I reply. “It’ll just be that way for today and tomorrow. Then we’ll actually do stuff.”
“Well I don’t wanna DO stuff either,” Benny responds.
“Yeah, that’s facts,” Dewy adds.
“I’m with you guys. Let’s just get through this week, it won’t be too bad I don’t think,” I reply.
They agree. Dewy, Benny, Petey, and I all meet back at lockers after second block. Now it’s time for lunch, so we all walk together down to the cafeteria. We all talk about funny stuff in our classes, like kids falling asleep in class, and other kids doing other funny stuff that for whatever reason my friends and I find funny. We get into the cafeteria, scan our student ID that lets us pay for lunch, and get in line. The cafeteria is always so loud and busy, and it’s such a pain to actually get your lunch and find a seat. The elementary school kids are already sitting down and eating, and they’re always funny to watch. Just the way they eat, their interactions with each other and their teachers, it’s all funny. It’s my turn in line now. I step forward and ask nicely, “Hi, can I please have the pasta, bread, and vegetables, please?”
The lunch lady responds, “Of course honey. Would you also like a brownie? That’s the dessert for today.”
“Yes, please. Thank you.”
“My pleasure, hon, you have a great day.”
“Thank you, you too.”
I take the plate from her hands and start walking towards the tables. Dewy already got his food and left to go save us a table, so I head that way to look for him. I get to the entrance and look around for him. In the back corner, I see someone sitting down waving their arm at me frantically. Dewy. I wave back, acknowledging him. I make my way through the crowd and tables and take a seat across from him on the long bench table in the back corner of the room. Benny, then Petey sat down, and each time Dewy waved at them when he first saw them. We eat our food in silence for the first five minutes. We all finish right around the same time and then jump on our phones to play games. Right now the fun iPhone is called Stumble Guys, which is the mobile version of a fun Playstation and PC game called Fall Guys. Dewy creates the party. The code is 38563 and we all join.
Lunch flies by and before I know it it’s time to head back to class. We start the trek back to the quad to head back to class. On the way back, we talk about how much we hate school and classes. We get back to the quad. I pull out my phone to check the time and my notifications. 12:07pm. Time to head to Spanish class.
“Hola, Señora Lopez, ¿Cómo está usted?”
“Estoy bien, Milo, y tú?”
Spanish is my least favorite class. We do the same boring, mindless activities everyday. Review homework, learn new material, take notes, do activities, repeat. Same thing every class. The only interesting part is when Benny and Chase get into arguments in Spanish. It’s always funny because neither of them are any good at Spanish, so they are always just yelling at each other in English just mixing Spanish words in there every once in a while. Today we are learning about the subjunctive tense in Spanish. It really doesn’t make any sense, because there’s no direct correlation in English. Think of it like after a certain phrase you have to conjugate a verb completely differently than normally. At the end of class Señora tells us that next class we’ll be learning about the present perfect. That actually does have a direct correlation to English. It’s like saying “I have had a car” would be “He tenido un coche” in Spanish. There’s always this one guy in our class that falls asleep every class. I feel bad because I don’t know if there are maybe problems at home like if he has siblings he has to take care of. Or maybe he has to work a job to help support his family. But maybe he is just really disrespectful and doesn’t care or listen to the teacher. I honestly don’t know what to think. All I do know is that he is fast asleep every class no matter what happens. Maybe I’ll ask him after class if something is wrong. But that would probably make him feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.
Spanish was pretty boring, just like last year. One more class to go today. 1:25. Whew. We’re getting there. I can get through one more period until dismissal. We head back to our lockers again for a 20 minute break before the last class of the day. Wait. I just realized the bell wasn’t working all day. Wonder why. The last class of the day is math. This year I’m taking Calculus. My math route has been Geometry freshman year, Algebra II sophomore year, Precalculus last year, and now Calculus this year. I’m not excited. Precalc wasn’t too bad last year, but it got pretty hard at the end of the year, which was mostly just the beginning of calc, so I’m a bit worried. We head into our final class of the so-far very boring and exhausting school day. I really hope we don’t do any work today, but math is usually the one and only class that we get started learning new material or at least start actually reviewing from last year. This class is just Benny, Dewy, and I. We make our way to room 378 and walk in. We got a new math teacher after Mr. Robinson left at the end of last year. We happened to be put with the new teacher: Dr. Swartz. Sounds pretty German. I hope it’s a young, cool teacher. Those kinds of teachers are always super fun, but everyone always takes advantage of them and how lenient they are with work and stuff. I feel bad. I still prefer a younger, cool, chill teacher than an old, strict, mean teacher. No matter what math and especially Calculus is a pretty trash subject. Still though, teachers make or break the class more than anything else. If you have a good teacher who makes teaching and learning and school in general fun, then no matter what you’re learning, it’ll be fun. Even if it is a super interesting topic that, say, and elective covers, if the teacher is no good, then the class will be no good. At the end of last year when I was signing up for classes, I first looked at what classes looked interesting, but, because it didn’t say on the sign up form, I would have to ask around to determine who was going to teach the class for the next year, because sometimes teachers change what classes they teach. Anyway, so then, after I figured out who was teaching it, I would decide whether or not I wanted to keep that class. There usually aren’t too many classes that I want to take solely based on the description and title, so if it was a teacher I didn’t want I would actually choose a class that seemed less interesting only based on the title and description, but had a more interesting or “better” teacher. I’m looking at the list. There are actually some pretty good classes this year. One really interesting one is about the historical analysis of conspiracy theories. Another one is all about how sports have shaped the history of the world.
Anyway, the three of us walk into our math class.
“Hi, what are your names?” Dr. Swartz asks.
“Nice to meet you three. If you don’t already know, my name is Dr. Swartz and I am the new math teacher here at Lincoln High School. I’m excited for this year!”
“What other classes do you teach here?” Dewy asks.
“This year I’m teaching two sections of Precalculus and one section of Calculus, which is you guys!”
We find three seats in the back of the class, per usual, and the last few kids in our class trickle in before the bell rings at exactly 1:45. One more class to go. 75 minutes.
As always, math is the one and only class where we start learning new material on day one. So annoying. We started learning about limits and sh*t. I have no clue what’s going on, I should probably pay a little more attention in class so that I don’t have to study. It’s finally the end of the school day. We walk out of the class and out towards the front of the school to the parking lot. My little Camry is always scorching hot in the summer, and it always takes really long for the actual air to cool down even once I start driving.
There’s always loads of traffic on the way home. It usually takes around 15 minutes to get to school from my house but it takes around 25 minutes to get back. When I was younger there used to not be a lot of traffic and Des Moines was a smaller city than it is today. Because Des Moines is fairly spread out unlike New York City, for example, which is very densely populated, as the city grows, the city also spreads out. This makes traffic in the parts of the city that people want to be very populated during the day, while most people live on the outskirts of the city because houses and apartments towards the center and downtown are crazy expensive now. My parents bought a house like 20 years ago now in central Des Moines, which, at the time, wasn’t super expensive and a lot of people didn’t live there. That works out great for them now since the value has shot up big time. My school is in a good part of the city too, so I’m super grateful for that. It’s not in the nicest and richest neighborhood, but it’s in a bad one by any means.
Today is just one of those days I don’t even listen to music on the way home, just drive in silence. Whenever I have a really long day, I just drive home with no music to destress and relax. Maybe I’ll yell at another driver or two just to get out my anger, but I never honk or cut someone off or drive aggressively. I’m at the red light at Maverick Road and First Avenue, which is like 5 minutes from my house. This drive has felt like it’s been two hours long.
I make my left turn onto Hill Lane and breeze down the cul de sac, looking at all of the houses I pass and admiring the beautiful, tall oak trees that peep from behind my neighbors’ houses. Two blocks down I reach my house and turn onto the cracked pavement of my driveway. My mom’s car always goes in the garage and my dad always parks right behind here, but he’s not here yet. I always park my car on the left side of the driveway. I get out, grab my school bag and water bottle, put my sunglasses back in the case, open the door, close the door, lock the car, open the garage door. “3232” is the code. Walk past my mom’s car, close the garage door. Always in that order. I can never open the garage door before I lock my car for example. I can never leave the school stuff in the passenger seat and walk around the car. I have to do it the same every single time, just like my morning routine. Nothing can be out of place, or I have to start over, that’s just how it is.
I open the door to go inside the house.
“Hi honey! Great to see you, how was your last first day of school as a senior?” My mom shouts from the other room.
“Do you have any stories for me?”
“Hold on, let me put my stuff down and go to the bathroom, then I’ll tell you about my day.”
“Ok, no problem, let me know when you’re ready.”
I head through the kitchen and down the hall to my room, which is on the first right. I drop my backpack a little too carelessly on the floor by bed and go to the bathroom right across from my room. When I finish, I walk back to the living room where my mom is sitting waiting.
“So, tell me some stories,” she says.
“School was pretty damn boring. Just a bunch of boring classes that we did absolutely nothing in. Although there is this one kid in my Spanish class who is always sleeping. I have him in one other class I think and he’s always sleeping I swear to god. But outside of class he looks super happy and never tired. It’s pretty funny though.”
“That does sound pretty funny. Poor kid, I wonder if something is wrong. Maybe he has like narcolepsy or something like that.”
“Oh, I didn’t even think about that. Yeah, maybe.”
“What else happened today?”
“Uh, my math teacher is hella annoying. Literally in every class except math we just like went over the syllabus or whatever, but in math we actually started learning sh*t it was so annoying.”
“What did you learn about?”
“Like limits are whatever. I'll tell you what, the school may have just started, but I’ve already reached my limit.”
“Hahahah, that was very funny. But yes, that does sound annoying.”
“Oh, there’s this new game called Stumble Guys that everyone is addicted to at school. Basically there is a game on the Xbox called Fall Guys, and Stumble Guys is the mobile version of that game, and we are always playing at lunch and breaks and stuff. It's super fun.”
“I don’t even know what an Xbox is or what Stumble Guys or Falling Guys…”
“Oh right, my bad. Fall Guys.”
“Doesn’t it sound fun?”
“So fun. How much homework you got tonight?”
“Just some stupid math homework. Not too much. Hopefully it won’t be too bad this whole week since it’s still the first week. We usually don’t do stuff.”
“You know I don’t worry about you doing your homework or your classes or whatever, just make sure you bring me your As.”
“I will, don’t worry.”
“Just make sure you get through at least this first semester and finish strong. Then second semester you can relax a little bit and get a B or two.”
“Yeah, I know. I will.”
“Good. I’m not worried about you. What time is practice today?”
“6 I think. At Hamilton Sports Complex I’m pretty sure.”
“Alright I’m gonna head to my room and get some work done. Or play some video games. Probably both.”
“Alright have fun.”
I walk down the hall again back into the room. I plug my computer in to charge it and plug it into the monitor and also plug in my iPad. I absolutely love my room. I completely redid it over the summer. When you first walk in, there’s a closet on the left wall on the near side. I took the doors off my closet so it’s just a mini open closet. Pretty cool actually. Most of my clothes are in my dresser, which is on the right side of the closet. I have some nicer clothes and hoodies and other stuff hanging up to the left of the dresser. On the floor below the clothes hanging up, I have my laundry bin for my dirty clothes and a few miscellaneous items behind it and to the side of it. I haven’t put my clean clothes away in a couple days, so those are just sitting on top of the dresser. Above all of that is a shelf that stretches the entire closet from left to right. It’s a fairly shallow shelf. On the left side of that, I have a large bin that stores my various hats and goofy sunglasses. I also have a matching bin on the right side of the shelf, with more miscellaneous items such as chargers and books. Between the two are where all of my soccer boots are. I have three cleats that are functional right now, another pair I’m breaking in, and two others that are pretty old and roughed up, but they could do the trick for one session if necessary.
I love having lots of pairs of cleats since the cleats I like to use aren’t made anymore. They’re called Tiempos. I like the 7 Pros, but I also accept wearing the 8 Elites. My obsession with Tiempo 7s dates back to when I was little and wore CTR360s because I had super wide feet. I would always buy the exact same color that Josh would buy. He was never very good at soccer, but I always looked up to him and wanted to be just like him. I’d wear his number, 8, too. The Tiempos were the only other style of cleat that fit me, and a few years ago I realized the Tiempos were about one-third lighter than the CTRs. And, they don’t make either the 7s or the 8s anymore, although the 8s are considerably easier to find on third party websites. I’m always looking for and buying both the 7s and 8s if they pop, so I’m always breaking in new cleats. I go through three or four every year. I also wear black cleats in the winter and white cleats in the summer, and never a different color. The main color on the cleat has to either be black or white.
On the far side of the left wall, I have a built-in bookshelf that stretches the entire height and length of that wall. I keep various trinkets and decorations, as well as school supplies and books. Next to that and facing the large window that covers the majority of the opposite side wall is my school desk. One of the things I purchased over the summer was a new monitor that was 4K. I also saved up for my new computer that is capable of displaying 4K via a monitor only. I bought a neat little computer stand that holds my computer up. I keep that on the far left corner of the desk. On the other side of the monitor is my wireless Airpods charger and wireless phone charger. Also on the desk sits my white Apple Magic Keyboard and my wireless Logitech charcoal gray mouse. There are three short and shallow drawers in my walnut desk, where I keep my TI-84 calculator, a few random chargers, a pair of scissors, and other various school necessities. The desk faces the main window, which covers the majority of the wall and makes the room feel much more spacious than it actually is. Around the side of the window I have my LED strip lights, which my dad helped me put up. The window sticks out about an inch from the wall so I put the strip lights around the outside of it. It’s plugged in to the outlet down and to the right of the window. On the right side wall, I have five different pictures of me. The frames switch between horizontal and vertical, and the pictures are in chronological order. The first one is from when I was six or seven years old, and the last one is from about a year ago. There’s nothing on the wall that the door is on, but I do have a mini basketball hoop attached to the door.
I turn on my monitor to get some work done, but I feel very mentally fatigued and can’t be bothered to do my math homework. Instead, I walk just across the hall to my brother’s old room. Over the summer, I completely redid it and converted it into my game room. I turn on the lights, and they take a second to turn on because they are smart LED lights. Unlike my room, I put smart LED bulbs into the ceiling. I can control brightness and color in the app on my phone, or I can make it a Siri shortcut so I can just tell Siri to change the color or up the brightness. The blue light covers the entire room. I head over to my desk with the new Xbox Series X on the right corner of the desk. I turn on the monitor, and zone out into nothingness as my face turns bright green from the Xbox loading screen emitting from the monitor. I snap out of it and text the “Pro clubs” group chat if anyone wants to hop on and run some FIFA. All three of the guys respond pretty quickly.
“Let’s run it.”
I unplug my wireless headset and feel the earcups push into my head from the sides as I turn it on. I hear the classic Xbox startup sound as I turn my head left to appreciate the trinkets I bought on the shelf. I’ve got a full FIFA collection of every FIFA game ever created, dating all the way back to 1996. I’ve also got a Gameboy Advance SP, a DS Lite, and a 3DS. I love the old retro games because it brings me nostalgia and reminds me of my childhood and simpler, more fun times.
“WebbierGecko1648 has invited you to a party”
“Hey guys what’s up? Y’all ready to run some clubs?”
“Yeah let’s go.”
“LET’S DO IT!”
“Alright guys, that was fun, see you tomorrow.”
“Good night guys, later!”
I take off my headset and plug it back into the charger. I then walk to the other side and relax in the recliner. I grab the remote for TV and turn on Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps game. Sh*t. I forgot I have homework. I begrudgingly get up from the comfy recliner and walk back over to my room to grab my backpack. I set it down next to the recliner and check Google Classroom to see if somehow I have any other homework other than my math.
“Sign syllabus and turn in.”
“Get syllabus signed and bring back.”
I have to get the syllabus for every single class signed by my parents and turned back in. English, History, Spanish, and Math. I grab my folder from my bag and head back towards the family room.
“Mom, can you sign these please?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“Just the syllabi for my classes.”
“Yeah, do you have a pen?”
I head back to my game room and cram the papers in the back pocket of my folder. Oh, Galaxy scored. I rewind to watch the goal. Delgado through ball out wide to the overlapping Araujo, whips it into the box, Chicarito heads it in back where the ball came from. One, nil. 57th minute. I take my backpack back to my room and plug my computer into the monitor and pull out my iPad to do my math homework. I open up the PDF of my math textbook on the computer and start cranking out some problems.
I make my way to the kitchen after I submitted the math homework. 6:17 pm. Practice starts at 8:00pm, and I have to get there at 7:45. Which means I have to leave here at 7:20 on the dot. So I have about an hour left before I have to leave. I head back to my game room and put on a different MLS game: Los Angeles Football Club vs. Seattle Sounders Football Club. It’s the 27th minute and the score is 0-0. I let the game play in the background as I lean back in the recliner and start scrolling through Tiktok and Instagram and respond to Snapchats.
“Hey Siri, set an alarm for 7:10pm today.”
“Okay, your alarm is set.”
Time to get ready. I briskly walk out of the room, back down the hallway and into the laundry room. I open the first drawer on the very bottom and pull out my practice shirt, shorts. I never use the socks because I don’t wear shin guards at practice, so I just wear the same socks as I wear to school. My cleats are already in my bag so I just have to change into my compression shorts, shirt, and shorts. I grab the black Under Armor water jug and go to the freezer and fill it about two-thirds of the way with ice and then use the tap from the sink to fill the rest with water. I put my phone and keys in the front pocket of my soccer bag and grab my water bottle. I open up the garage door, unlock my car, throw my stuff in more carelessly than I should, and head out. It’s not quite sundown, but it’s getting dark. I hate driving at this time. My favorite is driving late at night in the pitch dark. I’ll be able to do that on the way home at least.
“Hey, what’s up Coop, what’s going on?” Ethan asks.
“Hey, Ethan, not much, you?”
“Not too much brother.”
“Hi coach, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing well Milo, how are you?”
“Ready to get after it today?”
“Always ready coach.”
I love Coach Nick. He’s a really good coach, and I like his style of play and coaching style. He’s not a yeller, but he’s tough on the guys that he likes and wants to get better. I’m one of those guys. This is our third week practicing with the new team. I’m an old 2003, so I am one of four guys that stayed with the 03/04 age group this year. The other 03s all graduated, but because I’m a young 03, I’m still a senior in highschool, so I get to stay an extra year. I’ve had Nick as my coach for three years, and this is my fourth and final year. I’ve always enjoyed having him as my coach, and since I don’t want to play soccer in college, I don’t have to worry about being on the very best team possible, unlike some of my other teammates.
“Alright, everybody, good practice today, I’ll see you all tomorrow. This week we’ve got practice Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. All here and 8pm. See you tomorrow!”
“See ya tomorrow, coach.”
I head up the hill towards the parking lot. I pull out my phone to text my mom.
“Hey mom, is there a dinner plan?”
“It’s pretty late to get anything. I’ll have dad barbeque the steak that is in the fridge. See you in a little.”
“Hey buddy, how was practice today?”
“Pretty good. We didn’t really do anything. Just some passing drills, then small sided possession games, then onto the big goal.”
“The steaks just finished, I’m about to go grab them off the grill. Wanna help me, Milo?”
“Yeah sure, gimme one sec.”
I go to the bathroom and then walk outside to the grill. My dad is already starting to take them off.
“Here, grab these last two for me?”
We head inside with the T-bone steaks on a big, cream-colored, glass plate. I set them down on the stove and we all grab smaller plates. We each get our own steak and then head to the living room to eat. I check the time on the oven: 8:57pm. We all sit down in the living room. My mom sits in the big leather chair, my dad on the long part of the white, L-shaped couch, and I’m always on the short side. We start talking about our days. I talk about school, my dad work, and my mom about other errands and stuff she has to do around the house. The groomer is coming to give our dog a haircut, the pool guy is coming tomorrow to clean the pool, and the landscaping guy is also coming tomorrow to cut the grass and plants. My dog hates everyone outside the family, and she always goes berserk when there’s other people outside or in the house.
After dinner, I head back to my game room to play some Rocket League with my buddies from school. I text the group chat again and they all respond within five minutes or so. I love playing late night video games with the boys. Over summer, we used to stay up until really late, like 2 or 3am and just play all kinds of different games. We would play games on the Nintendo Switch like Mario Kart, Mario Party, or Super Smash Bros. We would also play games on the Xbox like FIFA, Fortnite, Rocket League, Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, Sea of Thieves. We had no homework, no worries, not a care in the world. Just the boys playing video games. Sometimes we would play three hour long Monopoly games on the Xbox, and people would rage at each other. But it’s all out of love.
“All right guys, it’s getting pretty late, I might hop off.”
“Wait, what time is it already?”
“No way, are you serious?”
“Jeez, okay, yeah. It is getting pretty late, I guess I’ll hop off too.”
“Alright, me too, good night guys, see you tomorrow.”
“See ya guys!”
After plugging my headset back into their respective chargers, I start to get ready for bed. I walk out of my room to a pitch black house, which surprises me a bit. Usually there’s at least one light on because my mom has a pretty messed up sleep schedule. She’s usually awake until really late, like 1 or 2am, wakes up early, then takes naps throughout the day. I head back towards my wing of the house and into the bathroom. My bathroom counter is perfectly laid out. The exact same every day. My tooth brush is right next to the right hand sink handle. My tooth paste is in the top right drawer. Deodorant is to the right of the tooth brush, with my electric razor to the right of that, along with my aftershave. I’ve also got my cologne at the top right corner of the counter. I grab my tooth brush with my left hand and wet it under the sink. Then I open up the drawer to grab the tooth paste and put a gloopy on. Then I wet the brush again. I brush my teeth in a very specific order. I always start on the bottom, then make my way to the top. I start at the back left and move my way towards my bottom front teeth. After the back right, I move up to the top right and go back towards the center, and finish off on the top row in the back left. I spit out the toothpaste once before I brush the tongue exactly four times, from the right side to the left. I spit out tooth paste one more time before I wash off the tooth brush head. I flick the bristles twice before I clean off any other parts of the brush that got tooth paste on it. I set the brush exactly where I picked it up, turn the faucet back on, cup my hands, and sip water to clean it out. I swish three times, then spit it out. Repeat once more, then wipe the back of my hand to dry off my mouth. I use the towel that is hanging on a metal, circular hangar on the right, mini wall to dry off my face. I then use some lotion and cover my face, ears, and neck. Wash off my face once more with lukewarm water and then dry off again with the towel. I go to the bathroom before I head back to my room to sleep. What’s really cool about my house is that I actually have a urinal in my house, and have for as long as I’ve been alive. We have owned this house for 21 years, so the house has been a part of the family longer than I have. My parents installed the urinal a year or so after they bought it. They also did major renovations when I was about five years old, when they added a section of the house that now is a giant desk area, as well as installed a basement that’s not kind of my dad’s and my man cave. I absolutely love the urinal, and every male guest that comes to our house can’t believe it when I tell them to use this bathroom if they have to pee. They’re so excited. It’s such a small luxury, but it makes going number one so much more convenient. After I go to the bathroom, I wash my hands. The handsoap is always next to the left sink handle, and I always use the warm water (the left handle) to wash my hands since that is the warmer water. I love having the foam soap rather than the liquid soap. I’m not exactly sure why, but I do. Then I go back to my room. I turn the light on. I take off the wallet that is stuck to the back of my phone and set it down on my desk. I stick my phone on the wireless charger and turn around to my bed. I make sure the blanket is spread out and make sure my pillow is how I want it. I take off my shirt and socks and underwear, but leave my shorts on. I toss what I take off into the laundry hamper in my closet. I missed one sock and my underwear. Sounds about right, I usually shoot about 50% of the clothing items. I walk back to the light switch and turn on the lights. I hop onto the bottom of the bed and crawl up to top to pull down the blanket. I pull the blanket down, slither under, then pull it back up. I stare at the ceiling in the pitch black, with no thoughts in my mind. Whew. I finished the first day of school. On again tomorrow.
“Alexa, set my alarm for 6:30am tomorrow.”
“Okay, your alarm is set for 6:30am tomorrow, 7 hours and 43 minutes from now.”
I sit in the pitch black darkness and stare at the ceiling, with no thoughts in my head. I toss and turn often, not quite getting in a comfortable enough position to actually go to sleeee…..
First week of school in the books. Not a bad first week of school. We didn't do too much. It’s really weird finally being a senior. This is my last year of high school ever. After this, I’ll never be a high school student again. And this is my last school soccer year. That’s probably what I’m most sad about, is being done with high school soccer. I have a meeting with my college counselor after school today. I have official offers for soccer from the only couple of schools that I wanted: Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Williams, and Grinnell. I do my early decision application in November, so I have some time to decide. I’m getting basically full financial aid at all three colleges, so it’s really just a decision of where I want to go more. I like Williams because I like the idea of weather similar to what I live in now. But I also wouldn’t mind exploring the country a little bit and moving to the west coast at Claremont or Pomona. On the other hand though, Grinnell is close to home, only like 45 minutes away from Des Moines. But Grinnell is a very small town, and I’m a little bit tired of living in the midwest. At least I’ve got some time to think about it and decide. I’ll talk to my parents after my college meeting today. I’ve got time since there’s no practice today.
“Hey, Milo, how’s it going? Ready to get started?”
“Yeah, what are we doing today?”
“Well, I just need you to do a few things today. I see that you finished up your Common App over the summer, which is great. Now we need to start writing the supplemental essays. Remind me, you have offers for soccer at where again?”
“Claremont, Pomona, Grinnell, Williams. I still haven’t decided where I want to ED yet though, but I’ll definitely apply regular decision to all of them just in case.”
“Okay, great, thank you. I looked over your Common App that you send me over the summer, and that all looks great, the essays, personal info, activities, all good. Obviously your grades, GPA, and ACT score is all good to go. And you have Mr. Robinson and Mr. Carpenter writing your letters of recommendation right?
“Yeah. Mr. Robison already wrote mine before he left and he said he sent it to you. You have that, right?”
“Yep, I’ve got that, I am still just waiting though for Mr. Carpenter, but he still has plenty of time, I’m not worried about that at all.”
“And you’re also all set with financial aid right. It says here you have full financial aid from all four colleges, right?”
“Yeah that’s what the coaches and financial aid office told me and my parents.”
“Okay, great. You’re in a really good spot Milo. Remember that your first quarter grades are sent to the college you do ED at, and the first semester grades are sent to all of the colleges you do regular decision at, so focus and finish strong at least through then with grades and behavior and whatever. Then second semester you can ease off a little bit. Just don’t get straight Ds and Fs, deal?”
“Deal. Should I start writing my supplements at home then, and then I’ll just shoot you an email when I finish so you can look over them and write corrections and do comments and whatever.”
“Yeah, do that, send me an email, I’ll look over them and we’ll finish those up. Then you’re all set. After we finish those you’ll be completely done with the admissions part, it’s just a matter of you and your parents deciding where you want to apply ED to and then actually submitting all the forms we need, which is super easy. Good job, Milo, you worked really hard to get to this position and you’re finally here. Don’t let up yet.”
“I won’t, Ms. Davis, thank you so much. I’ll schedule another meeting in a few weeks and we can go over whatever else we need.”
“Sounds good, Milo, thanks so much, have a great day!”
“Thanks, you too. Bye!”
“Hi, honey, welcome home. How was school?”
“Pretty good! I had my college meeting with Ms. Davis today, my college counselor.”
“Oh yeah, how did that go? What did you talk about?”
“Well, I need to start writing my supplements for the colleges I’m applying to. So U Iowa, Iowa State, Claremont, Pomona, Williams, Grinnell. That’s it right?
“And then along with starting my supplements, she just said that I gotta choose which college I wanna do ED to. I know we’ve talked about this before but I just haven’t decided yet. I wanna say I’m leaning towards Claremont though. I probably liked the campus more of Pomona, but I’ve been talking mostly to the assistant coach. At Claremont, it’s been all the head coach. Also, Swartz at Claremont has been like reaching out to me too, and none of the other schools have really done that. U Iowa and Iowa State are obviously just backups.”
“Yeah, I really don’t care where you go, as you know. Williams, Grinnell, Claremont, and Pomona are all really really top academic schools. You have a spot on the team at all four, and they’re all free. This decision is totally up to you.”
“I think I’d rather choose Claremont or Pomona over Williams and Grinnell because I’d like to get some warmer weather.”
“Okay, great, I like that idea. I’ll miss you since you want to go out of state, but I also completely understand. Just make sure you come back over breaks and visit me next year, okay?”
“Yes, of course I will mom.”
“So it’s between Claremont and Pomona? Whenever you decide which one, make sure you let me know so we can tell all the coaches together.”
“Okay, I will. And yeah, I think it’s between Claremont and Pomona. But again, I’m leaning towards Claremont.”
“I think that’s a great idea, is that your final decision?”
“Eh, not quite yet. I have a little bit more time, so I’m gonna take it.”
“Okay, sounds good to me. I’m very happy and proud of you though, Jonah. You worked for this. You earned this. Good job, buddy. I’m excited for whatever you choose. It’ll be fun to come and watch you play in college, too.”
“Yeah, I’m really excited, too.”
“Do you have practice today?”
“Are you doing anything with your friends?”
“Oh, not yet, but that’s a good idea. I know I’m definitely gonna go for a run, so I should do that earlier rather than later.”
“Good idea. Okay, I’m gonna go sit outside, so have fun, just text if you decide to go out!”
“Okay, bye mom!”
“Yo, guys, what’s the move tonight?”
“Ayyy, I’m down for whatever.”
“Yuh, me too.”
“Let’s run up the arcade?”
“Let’s do it.”
“See y’all there.”
We get to the arcade and start messing around, having fun playing some games. That’s when the realization hits. After this year, we’re not gonna be together anymore. All of my friends are planning on staying in state for college, and I’ll be moving halfway across the country. I need to make sure I enjoy all the little moments of this year, because I know time is gonna fly by. I need to make sure that I cherish every moment of this year, because before I know it, it’ll all be gone. Sure, I’ll still be able to visit them over summers and over breaks and whatnot, but it won’t be the same as right now during high school. I remember back to freshman year when my mom told me that high school would fly right past me, and I can’t help but think of the famous Ferris Bueller quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That’s how I feel right now. I feel like I’m in a sort of a limbo state, where I want to cherish and enjoy the moments I still have, but also sad that it’s all almost over. I don’t even know what I’m gonna do without these guys right next to me right now. Benny, Dewy, and Petey have been my best friends for as long as I can remember. And soon enough, I’ll only see them a few times every single year.
We spend a couple hours at the arcade before we hit up our favorite burger joint, Sickie’s. It’s like an older, retro diner kind of feel, and we always get burgers and a milkshake after. After we grub, it’s pretty late, almost 10:00pm.
“What’s the move, guys?” Dewy asks, “Wanna head back to my house?”
“Let’s do it.”
At Dewy’s house, we played 2 vs. 2 FIFA, Fortnite, and we all go head to head in old Wii games like Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. Dewy has this guest house thing in his backyard that they call the “casita.” It means “little house” in Spanish. Once it’s about midnight, we all get pretty tired.
“Yo, pretty crazy idea, but hear me out. I know it’s a school night, but what if we just pulled an all-nighter and you guys grab your stuff from your houses really early in the morning before school starts?”
“I would actually be so down for that, let me check with my parents real quick though. I’m sure they’ll be okay with it. After all, we’re seniors! We gotta do sh*t like this more often!”
“That’s fax, lemme check with my parents too.”
“Oh yeah, I’m so in! They said yes!”
“Me too, let’s go!”
“It took some convincing, but I think I’m good to go.”
“Awesome. You guys wanna ball up? I have lights on the basketball hoop just right outside. Just don’t be too loud or my neighbors and parents will get pissed.”
“Yeah, 2 on 2. Me and Petey versus you and Benny,” I say to Dewy.”
“Bet, we’ll kick your ass.”
“Not a chance buddy.”
“Good game, guys. What time is it?”
“No idea, but I’m exhausted.”
“It’s about 1am.”
“Let’s run some more video games and hit the sack.”
“Yeah for sure.”
“Let’s set an alarm for about 6am. That should be enough time for all of us to get back home and get ready for school.”
“Is it already 6am?”
“God, I’m still so tired. We gotta leave already?”
“Yeah, guys let’s pack up real quick and get outta here. We gotta get back home, shower, charge school stuff and phone.”
“Alright, I’ll see you guys later at school.”
“Later, Dewy, thanks for letting us come and sleep over.”
“See ya, Dewy, thanks!”
“Bye guys see you soon!”