Last night, I went to a party at my friend Ronnie’s house. We’ve been friends for most of high school, and I’ve been going to his place since the spring of ninth grade. He has a large house, but the bottom floor usually fills up for parties— yesterday was no different.
As a result of my own travels through high school and of becoming a regular at his “gatherings,” I knew most of the people who danced, chatted, and laughed around me. A few remain acquaintances; some are old friends drifted away; and several are close friends of mine currently.
I started going to Ronnie’s with my first boyfriend, who I dated for three months before breaking up at the end of ninth grade. We rekindled something briefly in November of tenth grade, but soon after he started dating his current girlfriend. Both of them were in attendance last night.
Several other ghosts of my past floated through the party, some blowing right through me, others surrounding me. Friends who I’d gone to parties with since ninth, boys I’d been involved with, girls I’d had falling outs with.
I didn’t really stop to really consider all these people that made up my past until I left late last night to begin the long drive home. Alone in my car, lights illuminating the empty roads rolling under my tires, I turned up the music and let my mind wander. While of course staying very focused on driving (just in case my mother reads this…).
My iPod flipped to a song (no clue which one now) that somehow made me start to consider memories I’d had at Ronnie’s. Those I’d driven home with, those I’d flirted with, those I’d longed for, those I’d laughed with. The momentum of the song began to build as images flashed behind my eyes like a scene from a movie. (Cliche, I know.) Other parties started to filter in: the small ones from ninth grade, the wild one from this summer, the extremely difficult ones from this winter.
People and memories that had become pieces of my heart awoke, and floated to the collage of music and pictures pulsing in my head. While you’d expect this to make me sad, thinking of past loves and former friends, it didn’t. It actually felt like closure, the completion of a circle.
I know that old memories and ghosts from the past will still haunt me, I know that pretending my mind is a movie montage didn’t really change anything. But somehow, out of the sweet mess of last night, I got a little peace, I got a little bit of movie magic. (:
Two years ago, in the fall of 9th grade, my school decided to be really cheesy. They covered a bulletin board in one of the main hallways with a billion adjectives, putting a huge sign in the middle that said: “How Do You Want To Be Remembered?”
I remember thinking, No one would even remember me as anything if I died right now. I’m invisible, I’m none of those words. I couldn’t find one adjective on the board that I thought matched me. I wasn’t beautiful, I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t super nice, or super smart, or super helpful. I didn’t do a ton of community service. At school, I was a nobody. And even after I made friends outside of school, I still felt like if I left, no one would even notice.
I passed the bulletin board at least once a day for a good few months. Though they occasionally switch it out for something different, the adjective display always comes back. Now, as a junior, I barely notice it anymore. It’s just another part of the Thayer landscape that I’ve seen a hundred thousand times.
But the other day, I happened to glance over at it, and remembered what my 9th grade self thought when she saw it. Though I didn’t stop to look at all the adjectives, the memory kept poking at me; my mind kept drifting to the board.
Why? It seems like an insignificant thing, right? Just another insecure girl, just another feeling of invisibility. So why exactly does this particular memory intrigue me?
Because now, I know how I would be remembered, and I know how I want to be remembered. Though at Thayer I’m still mostly invisible, now I know who I am. Experience has shaped me, failure has prodded me to change, and sadness has made me grow.
I’d be remembered as smart, strong and compassionate. I hope that my “difficult” side would be spoken of as well: my sarcasm, stubbornness, temper, and insecurity. I also hope that people would mention how I stand for what I believe in, and how I try to be myself.
It was only two years ago that I stood at that board, looking at those words, doubting that I could be remembered as anything special. It took me two years to grow into the person I am, and start to understand who that person is. Two years of change, two years to be the hot-headed, strongly opinionated, kind girl I am now.
We all feel lost, at some times more than others. We all wonder who we are, and if we’re doing this right. We all fall down, we all feel insecure, we all lose it occasionally. So maybe sometimes we should all think about a “How Do You Want To Be Remembered?” board: to remind ourselves where we’re going, and who we are.
I’m sure all of you will be remembered as someone truly special— maybe even just a little bit magical (;