“I’ll facetime you every day,” I vowed, hugging my best friend as I held back my tears, which were threatening to erupt and cascade down my face like a gushing waterfall. Lexi didn’t answer but squeezed me tighter, and we stayed like that for a sold five minutes, wrapped in each other’s arms—hiding from our doomed fate.
Across the room, a tall boy with chocolate brown eyes watched our embrace. I met his gaze, feeling my heart crumble for what seemed like the millionth time that year as he turned and walked out the band room door. So much for mustering enough courage to talk to him. Then again, it would have been so much more painful had I done so.
Lexi and I broke apart and I, realizing I was about to be late for the bus, rushed out the door and towards my new life, greeted once more by the familiar Texas heat. The tears I had been struggling with eventually escaped, and I found myself silently weeping as the bus pulled away from the school.
On the walk home, my friend Ellie joined me. And we were sobbing messes together.
This was the last day of seventh grade for me (the first time around) before I moved. Out of the two other times that I had been uprooted from my life, the third was the most painful—especially when I landed in dreary Pennsylvania.
I made connections, and then I lost them. Friendships were forged, then broken. Memories were created—then forgotten. But, despite this heartache, I learned to get up again. Because in the end, my connections were not lost. My friendships endured on, through hour long phone calls and random texts and Direct Messaging on Instagram. My memories stayed intact, too, giving me a reason to hope for a better future with more friends in the bleakest of situations.
Despite my fear of starting over, of the unknown, I would ultimately be okay, because only did I have those old connections to remember, but I also created new ones. In seventh grade (the second time around, courtesy of Pennsylvania math standards) I cried myself to sleep because I felt so alone, but at my sixteenth birthday, I cried because I had never felt more loved.
Throughout my journey in several different states, I’ve come to realize that whether we like it or not, we’ve all made an impact on each other—that compliment you gave made the girl walk more confidently, that simple hello made the boy smile a little brighter, that small introduction to a stranger became the foundation for a friendship (or, in reverse, that hateful comment you left on Instagram or the purposeful excluding of the class outcast). This impact, positive or not, influences our direction in life—our next connection.
Humanity has the possibility to light up the night or drown in the darkness. In the grand scheme of things, then, we are stars. Constellations. We’re not scattered randomly. We’re placed in the lives of others to either brighten it or drag it down. The people we leave behind may continue without us, but an echo of our footsteps are imprinted on their hearts forever.