Things have a funny way of inevitably working out. No matter how much you may curse the sky or rejoice along the way, in the end, everything falls into place. All of the pieces fit, placing you exactly where you need to be.
I've been thinking a lot lately about first's and last’s, and all of the seemingly insignificant moments in between. We crave to document and celebrate the obviously monumental. We fill our scrapbooks and photo albums with the milestones of graduation, sixteenths, eighteenths, twenty-firsts. First days of school, last days of school, break-ups, first kisses. I wonder about the first’s and last’s I have forgotten or ignored. When was the last time we fell asleep next to each other, talking about the future? The last time I walked down a particular hallway, drove down a given street, smiled at a now former classmate? We exist, collecting these unacknowledged moments and having no way to realize they are the end of a pattern. We give them no thought at all, and yet these moments are probably more significant than the ones we place on a nostalgic pedestal.
I have been experiencing nothing but last's these past few weeks. As I walked across that stage Monday night and received my diploma, the reality of the situation hit me. I exited the auditorium with my four hundred and fifty or so peers and walked onto the front courtyard and tossed my cap into the air. Graduating high school is a kind of weird that is difficult to prepare for. After four years of mandatory attendance and personal devotion, it is weird to grasp the finality of the end. The season of last's is followed by three months of summer, and then an autumn of first's inevitably rolls in.
I've spent four years surrounded by the same familiar faces, and yet I feel as if I only truly know a handful. Who knows me or presumes to? How can any of us know each other when we do not truly know ourselves?
In the same way the unnoticed first's and last's are more significant than the celebrated, I think everyone we meet has some impact on the people we become. I’m beginning a photography series, seeking to document anyone and everyone who has had an impact on my high school years and the person I have become. The list began small and eventually grew to over one hundred people. I seek to document the significance of each relationship, no matter how casual or irrelevant it may have seemed. It is so strange how quickly we enter and leave each other’s lives.
The truth is, time moves too fast for any of us. We can spend our days harping on the missed opportunities or things gone awry, but at the end of the day, all we can really do is enjoy what we had for what it was.
I have loved my time here. Every moment, positive or negative, has shaped me into the individual I am today. The people I have spent the majority of my time with have meant so much to me, and they have been there for me, throughout it all.
For the first time in my life, however, I am ready to leave. There is a Death Cab for Cutie song that says, “If you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born, then it's time to go.” I am ready to meet new people and begin my next chapter with a fresh slate. As I watched my peers walk across that stage to collect their diplomas, one by one, I thought of all the places each of us will go. All of the first's and last's we will experience as we continue to learn and grow, these moments often going unnoticed, unrecognized, and un-celebrated or mourned. Maybe that’s okay.
Here we go.