as I wander the hallways

I am caught in the process of remembering myself again. The long nights of work, the comfort of seeing friends everyday, the looming assignments and the quiet trust of my teachers no longer consume me. I am removed from the eight people who rowed with me and became my family, from the final exams that jarred my expectations of perfection, and from the graduation that tore me away from many of my mentors and friends. I begin the summer with a determination to find again the version of myself that does not need Andover to function.

I commence the summer slowly, testing the waters of a girl I have not known for several months. I read when I wake up and before I fall asleep. I feverishly clean my bedroom. I acquire a plant. I visit my elementary school, searching the wooden arches and colorful square rugs for traces of the girl I was when I started my education. My kindergarten teacher professes to remember who I was eleven years ago. I find only fragments as I wander the hallways.

I am thirty five thousand feet above the ground right now because I search for weightlessness. I am restless, with a pervading feeling that I hang suspended in amber, floating gently yet stuck between the golden waves. I am looking for some escape from Andover, looking to expand my as of yet narrow and familiar world. Nevertheless, I am afraid of what I leave behind.

I say goodbye to a family I have never said goodbye to before. I leave behind parents anxious and proud, brothers cautiously excited for independence and secretly upset with my absence. I leave behind my plant in the hopes that someone will take care of it. I leave behind World Cup matches because as my dad assures me, life experiences are always more important than soccer.

I abandon Andover. For the first time, I independently seek growth outside the boundaries of campus. I leave behind my inhibitions, my stagnant comfort, my self-doubts and critical self-evaluations. I also journey for the first time beyond a place that has shaped my character and perceptions of the world for sixteen years. I leave behind a home and a school so bound to who I am today that I have no idea what may happen when I am separated from them. I leave behind memories of my life up until this point in hopes that when I return, Andover will be there, awaiting my newfound clarity and voice. Hopefully new clarity and voice, anyway.