My senior year of high school, in the states, was cut short when an announcement sounded over
the intercom, blaring that school would be cancelled for the next two weeks. This happened in
March, fittingly, on Friday the thirteenth. There was something eerie in the air that day, like
something was ending – and it was. After this announcement, we still had one period left. There
was a boy running through the hallways shouting ‘two weeks off, baby!’ as I walked to what
would be my last French class ever. I remember leaving school that day, saying to one of my best
friends ‘well, don’t know if I’ll ever see you again.’ What I thought was a joke turned out to be
true. We went into lockdown, then his family moved, from my hometown in Virginia, to
California in the fall. I didn’t particularly like high school, but it’s strange to think my childhood
was over just like that.
In John Hughes movies, it seems like Prom and Graduation represent that final stretch of
youth. For one last time, it’s socially acceptable to make mistakes and blame it on teenage angst.
The majority of my high school graduating class will be finishing university this year. It makes
me wonder how this blip in time has impacted our lives and how it will continue to do so. In
conversations I’ve had with others who’ve had this experience, it seems as if we’ve all removed
2020 from our memories. When I think back to Covid, I can’t exactly remember what I did. It
was like Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray providing the comedic relief. I spent my first
year at the University of Edinburgh online, at home in the states because I wasn’t able to get a
visa with Covid restrictions. There’s a strange sort of irony there. High School was over, and
all of my friends from home had moved on to their universities. My John Hughes era of life was
complete; but there I was, still sleeping in my childhood bedroom.
I moved to Scotland in September of second year. I think that year at home made me
more appreciative of my experiences here than I would have been without it. Still, it’s odd to
think that there is this blank space in my life, and there always will be. My question is: without
those pivotal moments, where does this leave the High School class of 2020? I think we’ve
found closure in most ways; I certainly don’t want to turn back time and go back to High School.
However, I think it’s the not knowing that was our last day – that it was the last time we would
just be kids walking through halls, annoying our underpaid teachers, eating lunch in loud cafeterias with friends we’d known forever, and feeling out of place and at home all at once. We
didn’t get to take it in. I think something happens in those last moments of high school. As if
some sort of switch goes off in your brain and says ‘okay, this is it.’ I think that switch hasn’t
quite turned off for most of us: we’ve only left the room, but the light’s still on.
In 2024, we will have our first real graduation, we’ll get to say goodbye and we’ll be
conscious that it’s ending. I wonder if, then, it’ll finally set in that we can’t compete with time
anymore… we’re growing up. We don’t get a bonus year for the time we lost to Covid. We don’t
get to pretend that, because we never really finished high school, our childhood isn’t really over.
While adulthood may be just around the corner, let’s use that lingering bit of youth to remind us
not to take ourselves so seriously, and to live in the moment, rather than wondering how it will