How I Realized High School Isn’t Forever

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I hate goodbyes. Even the tap water in Mexico City couldn’t tie the Eagle Scout-quality knots in my stomach that goodbyes inflict. When I parted with my best friends from home before college, the brothers who carried me through my four years of high school, my heart sank faster than the Titanic. The summer before freshman year was the best time of our lives: We barely left the beach, binge watched The Office, knocked on each other’s doors at midnight because we could and ate as many buffalo wings as our stomachs could hold.

Then we left.

We left with a glimmer of hope that nothing would ever change. My closest friend was going to school six miles from me, so obviously we could continue the buffalo wings routine. We could all visit each other and catch up in our group text. After fall we could spend every day of break together, crush Netflix, sling a biscuit with some twigs and be our normal high school selves without skipping a beat. Of course, we failed to consider that time moves forward and so do we.

From as far south as Duke to as far north as the Dartmouth frat scene, we ventured off into new chapters of our lives. What was once a nonstop group text slowly turned into the occasional “Hey, what’s up?” Seeing my closest friend every weekend for Frisbee golf quickly became once a month, then twice a semester. We all congregated at each other’s houses for the first half of winter break, but even that drifted to radio silence by the second half.

Second semester rolled around and I felt a 45 year old bachelor with a bunch of married friends. I would routinely check the group text only to find cobwebs—so I’d ask for help on homework questions that I sometimes already knew how to do (oops). During second semester, I almost resented my high school friends. How dare they put their college lives before me? Jerks. I craved the past and shuddered at the thought of a future without them.

As the school year came to a close, I found out my closest friend was staying in Boston for the summer to do research. At least he would be there when I got back, right? Wrong. He’s studying abroad in Brazil this semester. I started to seriously sulk after my other friends planned to spend their whole summers at their beach houses an hour away. I saw them a handful of times, but not the everyday summer lovin’ I desired. My loneliness fostered an unhealthy Netflix addiction and a perpetually disconnected mood.

Those feelings never changed. But what’s the silver lining or happy ending? Well, there isn’t one. I just realized that hey, sh*t happens. Life goes on after high school and the more I resisted the inevitable, the more upset I became. I thought growing apart from my friends was someone’s fault and that pizza nights would never be the same, but I eventually realized that it’s OK to move on and start over with a new group of college friends.

Just because we may see each other less and only talk on occasion, doesn’t mean the times I had with my high school friends are discounted, and it doesn’t mean we won’t always be brothers at heart. It doesn’t mean that in 15 years at one of our weddings when I stand up and ask, “Did someone say Jojo?” that they won’t know exactly what I mean.

As Gordie Lachance might say, “I’ll never have friends like I did when I was [17]. Jesus, does anyone?”

Jack O'Reilly is a sophomore mathematics major at Boston College. He seeks to be a gentleman and a scholar in all walks of life: professionally, athletically, socially.

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