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On leaving the nest

Sean KellyI’m sure everyone remembers the good old days when back-to-school shopping meant searching for items on a pretty simple list — things like colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks and the like. Getting to the point where you needed a binder seemed like a pretty big deal.

But these days, I’m running into a much more difficult shopping list: bedding, towels, lamps, computers — and textbooks that cost almost as much as tuition.

Let’s face it. Leaving is hard. It’s a big deal. For those going out of state, it’s leaving pretty much everyone and everything behind. For those staying close to home, it’s watching everyone else leave. And maybe other people you know are going to the same school and maybe everyone will be coming back in a few months, but the fact of the matter is that things aren’t going to be the same.

And even those who still have a couple more years of school ahead of them are affected. Despite the fact that everyone is ready to move on and experience what the future holds, right now that step is punctuated by “Don’t go” and “I’m not ready.”

Some people say they’re not good with goodbyes. Truth is, no one claims to be good with them, except maybe people paid to fire other people, like George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air.” The point is, no one likes goodbyes. With the people closest to us, even if we know goodbyes aren’t really final, they feel that way. Even after four years of high school have swept by us, the months between now and returning on break feel like eons.

And when it comes to many people, this may actually be it. Most of the people we have gotten to known in the past years are destined to become “someone I went to high school with,” or “somebody I used to know back in high school.”

We’re all becoming the ghosts of each other’s pasts. The people we never got close enough to really be good friends with start to fade away.

Of course, in this age of social media, everyone has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Our generation skips the step of rediscovering old acquaintances from school because we’re all already connected. Even when our class has spread across the nation and even the world, we’ll still be getting updates on what Suzy did last weekend and what Jon had for breakfast. Just because a couple more miles are between us doesn’t mean we’re going to stop Snapchat-ing each other.

With the amount of online interaction we have with each other, it might seem like no one is going anywhere. It only takes about a hundred milliseconds more for a message to get from the east coast to the west than it does to get from Lake Oswego to Lake Oswego.

But there’s a major difference when you’re separated by physical distance. And it’s more than just that. We’re going to be meeting new people, making new connections.

A friend of mine compared life to a train in regard to this. We’ve all been stuck in the same car for the past four — maybe even 12 — years, but in June we reached Grand Central, and now our connections are departing. Some of us are boarding the same trains, and some of us going new places alone.

We’re a long way away from the days of Crayola. I mean, no one said you can’t write a research paper in crayon, but I doubt most professors would be terribly impressed.

Sean Kelly graduated from Lakeridge High School in June and will be studying biomedical engineering at University of California, Berkeley.



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