Yesterday was my last real day of high school, and I don't know what to do.
Unlike most people, I've never taken too well to summers. I mean, I like them because they give me free time to do things I want to do rather than things I have to do. But they also make me feel undefined. I've always defined myself to a large extent by school. I'm a student, I'm a learner, I'm a pupil. I go to Del Cerro, I go to La Paz, I go to Mission. But the transitions from one to another aren't always smooth. I'm reminded of something from Beverly Cleary's book called Ramona Quimby, Age Eight. The main character didn't liked it when people asked her what grade she was in during the summer months, because she felt like she couldn't give the right answer. She wasn't in second grade -- she'd already finished with that -- but she wasn't in third grade -- it was still off in her future.
That feeling of gradelessness, of a lack of definition, is what is starting to set in already, and it's one of the things I don't like.
But back to Friday. The hardest part was without a doubt the fact that I had to leave my teachers. I'm not worried about leaving my friends. I have come to understand over the past few years that friendships that are meant to be will last. This doesn't mean that they won't require time and effort...but if you want it to happen, then you will put the time and effort into it, and it will. However, the same can't really be said of the teachers I know. Sure, I'll come back to visit them, but it will be a return as an outsider. I will never again be their student in truth, though I will always feel like it in my heart.
And it feels like there are things they could have still taught me, things that I need to learn from them, but that I never will, because now I'm gone. When I see my favorite teachers again, it will be through a new lens, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. And it's not just the teachers I've had this year, like Fukuda, Koger, and Krucli -- the realization is there when I thnk of teachers I've had in past years, like the McClures or Vargish or skinny Moore, who will never again be just a few classrooms away. In the past I've never really left the teachers I've loved. Now, I have to.
And part of me knows that I have to, part of me understands that it's a part of my personal journey, part of me knows that there really isn't anything else left for them to teach. On a basic level, I can comprehend that there is something bigger than Mission Viejo High School calling to me, and that it is a call I will need to answer. The things I have learned along the way will be used to help me through the road of trials that lies ahead. I know that by holding on to these teachers, and by feeling that there is still something they have to teach me, I am refusing the call. I know that this must stop if I am to grow up and become my own person.
But I also know that the journey will change me, and I'm worried that once I cross the return threshold and come back to see them in a few months or a year, everything will have changed and they will no longer mean to me what they once did. I'm afraid that their significance will diminish with distance, and I desperately don't want that to happen, because they have shaped my life so greatly and I don't know how I could continue to be the person that I am if I forgot them.
So I won't forget them.
I won't forget Mr. Koger's crazy stories about the time his friends backpacked through Europe, or his guitar skills, or his flattery, or the way it feels to hug him.
I won't forget Mr. Krucli's ability to let us teach ourselves and to honestly and openly discuss literature with us as though we were his equals in age and knowledge, nor will I forget his smile or his odd anecdotes or his tendency to form personal relationships with his students.
I won't forgeth Mr. Fukuda's "mkays," or the way he always hassled me about my calculator, or the way that he seemed genuinely proud of everything his students managed to do right.
I won't forget Mr. Vargish's ability to make history come alive, or his trademark sayings, or his genuine affection for me and that one hug I got from him, or the way he teared up at the end of Casablanca.
I won't forget Mrs. McClure's unwavering support for all of my English efforts, or the way she's been a part of my life since freshman year, or her uncanny ability to draw me into a conversation that will last much longer than it needs to.
I won't forget Mr. McClure's laughter, or his recitation of poetry, or his impossible style of teaching that nonetheless brought out the best in all of his students and helped them to never fear English again.
I won't forget Mr. Mark Moore, for his ridiculous school spirit, or for acting like everyone's best great-uncle, or for being genuinely excited about the math that he taught, even if others didn't see it.
I can't forget them all, because I am them all. They are as much a part of me as my friends and my family; to borrow a phrase from Julie E. Czerneda, they too are my heart-kin. Forgetting them? Why, that would be impossible.