The Girl Who Falls Asleep Last at the Sleepover

Every time I come home I’m on edge. I have trouble concentrating and barely eat and basically just sit in my room trying to distract myself from reality. I always attributed this to my discomfort at school, and over break I got to forget about school and basically pretended it was just another Christmas break during high school since all of my friends were home.

Now I understand why.

I came home last night and my little sister and I talked for hours sitting on the couch in my room. She hugged me really tight and told me that she missed me so much, and she is sad that she can’t come into my room and talk to me about anything when I’m gone. I haven’t cried a lot since I used to call my parents in tears last semester, but that made me cry a lot. I hate not being there for her. I can see that she’s going through the same tough middle school experiences that I had and it breaks my heart that I can’t physically be there to support her.

She slept over in my bed tonight and we watched 10 Things I Hate About You. It was her first time seeing it. I thought of the first time I watched it during my sophomore year by myself in my room. I discovered a lot of things that way, like Freaks and Geeks, Clueless, Almost Famous, Perks of Being a Wallflower, the list is endless. I can always transport back to the exact moment, remember the position of the furniture in my bedroom right down to the posters and tapestries, and what boy I was pining over at the time. I feel like when I’m home I never really left, and when I watch these movies again and hear the stories it’s like I never really left that moment.

Every time I come home I’m on edge because everything is different, but everything is so very much the same. I can drive by Maggie’s house, but she won’t be in it. I can find the key in the hidden spot on her front porch and go inside, but she won’t be there watching movies or making dinosaur chicken nuggets. I can sit in the parking lot of the old Morgan and watch traffic go by but never get in another traffic jam at 2:13 whipping out of the parking lot. I can lay in my bed on a winter afternoon and watch the hours tick by but Michael won’t be coming over with homework to do or a town meeting to attend.

Will everything feel that wonderful again? Or will I keep having to avoid the old Taylor Swift songs, the sad ones, that make me cry because I know my childhood is over? I just want everyone to come home and make everything the way it was again. A senior in high school I work with always complains to me about how she is just SO ready for college, and yes, college is great, but there is so much that I gave up to get there. I feel like I traded in the great parts of my life for smaller moments of joy that come less often. Freedom comes at the cost of comfort, security, and deep connection. I don’t know if anyone’s truly my friend if they haven’t come over and lied in my bed at 2 p.m. on a Sunday watching movies. My teachers don’t know my entire family, let alone my aspirations in life or what I eat for breakfast every morning. All of my teachers always knew that.

Wasn’t it easier in your lunchbox days / Always a bigger bed to crawl into / Wasn’t it beautiful when you believed in everything / And everybody believed in you?

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room / Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home / Remember the footsteps, remember the words said / And all your little brother’s favorite songs / I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone.

I hope someday I become like everyone else and forget about all of this, because it hurts to be the only one who cares. It hurts to look at my wall of a thousand memories and realize that I don’t know what my friends are up to all the time. I can’t ride my bike to Riley’s and I can’t drive by Saldamarco’s and see if her car is in the parking lot. We’ve all moved on. Some of us in mind, body, and spirit. I know it’s not cool to not have moved on, but I haven’t. There is too much good here to forget about it so quickly.

I was never one of those kids who said they couldn’t wait for college anyway.

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