[Hint: one in a headlamp]
I've talked to the same people for 11 straight years. That's over a decade. A decade of saying the same stories to the same people. Sometimes there were new people, but they were the weird kids that hadn't been at Waterford since pooping on your own was the biggest news of the day. But young Waterford was the best Waterford. My first friend there came about with a conversation like this:
"You dress like a boy? I do too!"
That was Sydney. We were best friends since day one. And we stayed best friends up until right around the time she stopped dressing like a boy. We didn't stop being BFF's because she stopped dressing like a boy, I promise that wasn't the reason. I think it dealt mainly with the fact that we no longer talked about signing our names in cursive even though our teacher said not to, or staying up past our bedtime creating different scenarios where we'd have to use a broom to turn off the light. Instead the conversation shifted to something much more time consuming. Boys. God's gift to the world. Funny enough, we didn't appreciate God's gift until we were about 12 years old. When the breasts came. Oh boobs. They changed the whole game.
But the point is mainly this: The same people have been with me through every step of my life thus far. Elliot was there second grade on my first day. Elliot was there at graduation, on my last day. But Elliot's not here anymore? That can't be right.
I was safe. I was so safe. I felt safe. Ya know, the type of safe you feel when you get into your bed after a long day. That safe. I had authority. I knew where I stood. I knew my friends. I knew who I was....well I knew who high school Jeannie was.
But then BANG! All the sudden time is gone and college is here and I'm sleeping in a bed that doesn't offer the same safety my last one offered and I can't go into my mama's room and talk to her and I can't howl at the moon with my dog anymore and I don't know anyone and Waterford won't be waiting for my arrival the Tuesday after Labor day and then all the sudden I'm terrified that high school might be as good as it gets.
So I felt sorry for myself when I first moved away. I was scared and I pitied myself for it. I put on a brave face, tried to make people laugh, and hid it well enough. I cried, sure, who doesn't when change happens. Not full out bawling with the snot trail and everything, but the subtle "oh no I just yawned" crying.
But then I realized. What's the point? I'm growing up and that's okay. We can't know what's going to happen or where we're going and the hard-to-grasp knowledge is that it's okay! In fact. It's necessary.
I'm figuring it out. I really think I am. I'm putting myself out there. Who cares what people say, because I'm me. I'm college Jeannie.
Besides. New people means I can start telling all my stories again, and it is about freaking time.
PS. Photos stolen off Facebook. Fair and square.