lover of reading, writing, exploring, and creativity
I would love feedback on the specific events of this piece and whether the structure of it flows well or not. Thank you!
Written By: Annabella Twomey
May 15, 2015
“I love you guys! That was amazing!” Caroline shrieked and hugged me as the curtain fell after the eighth grade class’s production of “Enchanted.” I do not exaggerate when saying this middle school play was like no other. It is required for all the eighth graders, but no matter how much you can’t dance, sing, or act, you love every minute of it by the end. The crew used special effect lighting, hired a small symphony, and everyone had a part that felt vital to the show. The director had a whistle that she used to whip people into order during rehearsal. As militaristic and intense as it sounds, it was the highlight of the year.
I hugged Caroline back, and jumped up and down. This had been our last night of the show, and now came the after-party. My friends and I ran to get changed and wiped the fairy glitter off of our faces. We loaded into a trolley that took us to a classmate’s guest house, just across from his main house, where the adults celebrated their children’s small victory. Once there, we shoved cookies into our mouths and propelled ourselves around the gym and squash court, an ideal place to release the pent-up energy in our adrenalized bodies. Later that night, I was sitting with my friend, Robyn, and the exhaustion began to set in.
“Hey Bella,” Robyn said suddenly. “Do you ever think of where we’ll all be in a year? Two years?”
“High school, I guess. I haven’t really given it too much thought,” I answered, playing with my braid. “We’ll all be at different places, but we’ll find time to see each other.” People kept their friendships after leaving Brookwood. I’d seen the Facebook photos from previous graduates when they reunited. At that moment, I couldn’t fathom a new circle friends. It was hard to see ourselves anywhere else. Brookwood was where we had grown up, from age four to fourteen.
“Well, we will stay friends at least,” she declared. Her voice was full of resolve and certainty.
The remainder of the night was a blur due to excessive sugar intake and prior sleep-deprivation. I could barely comprehend what had transpired over the last few days; the play had taken up every waking hour of the past week and a significant amount of our year. At 11:00, my family and I walked to the trolley, which would take us to a parking lot with our car. As I stepped outside, my shoes became wet with thick, flurry snow. It was a long, dark path to the trolley, but the white of the snow gave the night a luminescent quality. I found myself walking with two boys from my class.
“Hey AnnaB,” they said.
“Hey guys,” I responded. “That was amazing, right?”
“Oh yeah,” one replied, “Definitely the best play yet.”
The other looked up at the sky. “I wonder how much snow will accumulate tomorrow.”
I had forgotten tomorrow existed. Yes, after all the glitter, the music, the foundation that the parent makeup artists caked onto our faces, there was a new day approaching. With the play being over, it would feel like a new era.
My family and theirs clambered into the trolley and drove slowly into the night. I pulled my knees into my chest and looked out the window. The two boys were discussing hockey, something I enjoyed watching, but did not have enough knowledge to carry a flowing conversation about. I knew I would arrive home to my sleeping sister and cousin, and wake up tomorrow with two weeks of March vacation to enjoy. The snow blanketed the box-like trolley car. I felt secure and at peace, no visible life obstacles in sight.
٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭
On June 11th, 2013, Brookwood School was a sea of white. So bright, so full, and so easily stained. Girls wore pretty, white dresses with ribbons in their hair, boys wore crisp blazers and shirts. The idea behind a graduation is baffling: to take one or two days to reflect on all your experiences at a place you have been for years. It is especially daunting if you have been somewhere for nine years, rather than four. And the people! Not only did I know every classmate’s full name, but I knew their parents, their siblings, where they lived, and their hobbies. We all knew each other in this way.
Looking back on my years at Brookwood and the community there, I see that I was learning through the right processes. I was genuinely curious about the outside world, why things happened, and I actually enjoyed vocabulary lessons! For my peers and I, learning went beyond a 4.0 scale. And because I still retain some of these mechanisms, I know that the academic part of middle school has stayed with me. But as I walked down the aisle in my white dress among fifty-three of my fellow classmates, my concern was not my academic performance and learning methods in high school. It was a raw determination to keep in touch with everyone who meant something to me. I knew it was possible, and with social media’s beeping reminders that these people existed, there was no excuse to losing anyone.
It may seem ridiculous to celebrate an eighth grade graduation so extravagantly. There were diplomas, flowers, and speeches in the courtyard. But if you were about to part from people and a place it felt like you had spent your whole life with, celebrations would feel perfectly appropriate. So as graduation dissolved into class parties and those transitioned seamlessly into a long summer, the question became who would stay in my life. My answer to that question at the time was everybody.
٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭
About a month into my freshman year at Hamilton-Wenham, I met up with my friend Liz, who was attending boarding school at Phillips Andover Academy. We met at a restaurant, because that’s what young adults seem to do.
Each of us exclaimed, “I have so much to tell you!” I let her go first and she discussed all the different people she’d met, most of them diverse and creative geniuses, living in a dorm, and the overall differences of boarding and middle school. Between her various stories, she talked through our drinks, the bread, and the entire entree.
“Wow,” she remarked, as the waitress collected our finished plates. “I’ve talked this entire dinner, I’m sorry. How about you? What have you been up to?”
Her genuine interest touched me, and I began to prattle about the excitements of packing my lunch in the morning, the freshman soccer team, and having a school bell. The more I talked, the more I felt a wedge of differences that was shoved between us grow larger. I thought I had experienced such an adjustment for high school. But I saw the massive leap she had to make going away and our lives now seemed incomparable. To her credit, she continued to ask me questions as though I was reporting from a NASA mission to land on Jupiter. I left that night not feeling completely discouraged, merely with the jarring realization that things are different now. We no longer shared the same circle of friends. We couldn’t discuss different assignments, teachers, or school policies. We were in different worlds.
I continued to talk to several other middle school friends. As the weeks turned into months, the conversations turned from detailed updates of our days to “Hey! What’s up?” “Not much, you?” When you aren’t with someone in person, you either tell them every detail you can remember, or disclose almost nothing. There doesn’t seem to be an a happy medium. As for Robyn, we started our freshman years with periodic updates, but our relationship eventually disbanded into passing hello’s at lacrosse games or the occasional text. I struggle to remember the times when we shared everything. However, something in me feels that if we were to reunite soon, all of the remnants of our old friendship would resurface and we would find ourselves laughing at old videos and reenacting scenes from “Enchanted.” The best friendships have a way of coming back no matter how much time has passed.
Although I was making new friends in my own high school, I couldn’t shake the discomfort that I was losing people I had known for so long. Last February, I went to Caroline’s house, wondering what contrast between our new lives I would discover.
“B!” she shrieked, and threw her arms around me. Her house radiated a warm glow, just as I remembered, and I scratched her yellow lab’s ears.
“How’s Milton?” I asked.
She shrugged, “Tons of work, waking up early. I love the people there, but it’s kind of a relief to come home sometimes.”
“Do you miss your mom yet?” I said jokingly. Caroline’s mom was the type who hovered over her and badgered her with boarding school questions, while Caroline answered her in one-word, monotone answers. I thought the relationship was hilarious.
Caro rolled her eyes, “She’s still crazy. Come on, let’s go upstairs.”
Her room still had seven different varieties of lotion and framed marker drawings from our kindergarten art days. I noticed a pile of Barbie dolls in a corner, because she was always a doll person.
“Do you still take lessons?” she said, gesturing to her guitar in the corner. Back at Brookwood, we used to collaborate for a guitar and voice performance in the annual recital. Alone, we may have been too nervous to perform, but together we played and harmonized like we never had before.
“Yes!” I answered, “I miss playing at Recital together.”
“I know,” she agreed. “Hey, we should play. Just improvise something right now.”
We found an extra guitar in her attic. I was filled with anticipation and I rushed back down the carpeted stairway to her room, the entire house brimming with familiarity. I began to pick the strings to a familiar tune we both knew. Her eyes flashed with recognition.
“Don’t judge my voice, please. It’s been a while,” she admitted, clearing her throat.
“Oh please, can’t be any worse than mine.” And as we strummed our guitars, the world was a clean sheet of white. White like our former innocence, and white like our new hopes. We sang with promise and optimism.
There are no guarantees with old friends, no specific guidelines about how to act or when to visit. Despite all efforts to try and hold onto everything meaningful, some things stick and others slip. But every so often, there are small moments with the illusion of infinity. For whatever reason, they aren’t stained by the past or weighed down by the future, and those experiencing them feel nothing but the present. They are fleeting, but they are remembered.