For the last eight years, a big bin under my bed has collected the class notes, entertaining quotes, and little doodles that documented every day of my high school and college life. I've sorted through the mess at times, but I was always reluctant to throw away these relics from my favorite classes and was also certain that at one point I might need my Crime and Punishment notes or population density studies again. I guess I'm something of a homework pack rat.
So tonight, I decided to clean it all out. I sifted through the three ring binders and spiral notebooks, and it was like watching a movie of myself learn and work and put in so much time. I found geometry notes from eight grade with handwriting that was both awfully bad and awfully close to the way my handwriting is now. I read a note that Shelbie and I passed back and forth during class to advise each other on who to ask to an upcoming dance. Mrs. Lake's comments on my English papers ranged from "incoherent" to "what a delicious brain you have."
Each piece of paper unfolded a new memory. My AP test scores led me to reminisce about getting those test scores in the mail and getting broken up with on the same day, and the one redeeming thought through all of it was "well at least I scored higher than him." Then I was back in Mrs. Olson's class, learning and caring about people on the other side of the world with such different cultures yet with hopes and passions so similar to my own. And then I was on the front lawn of East High watching the boys play frisbee and crouching in the shade of the diminutive trees, totally content with where my life was and who my friends were and not worried about the future for a time.
A crumpled manilla envelope revealed a list of "Regency Etiquette" that Suzanne and I distributed before our Jane Austen Ball, and I laughed at myself and thought how lucky I was (and still am) to have had friends that put up with me and my crazy ideas. It made me think of the day, a few days after my birthday, when a gift was delivered to my class and I opened the package to find a beautiful white North Face jacket inside that I had been coveting for months, and see then names of nearly thirty friends who had generously contributed to making my birthday special. I thought of our ski days, random dance parties, late night hikes, the thrill of driving ourselves around for the first time, asking to dances, answering to dances, secret sardines, and every good thing in between.
So here I sit, back in the Marriott Library (I don't have homework, of course, but it was my only chance to spend time with Will) and feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the good people who surrounded me all the time I was growing up. I am grateful for the many teachers who made me feel smart and capable, and the friends who encouraged me to be the best version of myself. To all of them, thank you!