Re: To the Class of 2014

It’s August. That means a couple things, but for most people between the ages of six and twenty two, it means that summer is coming to an end. School starts back up. They’re going to be in a different grade, different classes, different schedule, and for a handful of that group, that also means a different school. In a different town, maybe a different state, or possibly a different country. The big box stores have swapped their lawn chair sales for crayons and pencils. Swim suits are about to be packed away, and the jeans and sweaters are coming to the store windows and front of the juniors’ section. Most importantly for that group, they’re going to try and pack up their life.

I’m sort of a part of that group. I’m starting the process of packing back up to move back to Chicago – back to the city that I’ve fallen in love with and started to establish myself as an individual. I’ve made memories there and I call it home, but I’m still getting used to it. I’ve moved out twice already, but I’ve only really been through the packing process once. I’m not going to try and offer my advice (roll your clothing instead of folding, use big boxes instead of big suitcases, don’t loft your bed [no matter what anyone else says,] and invest in either a really nice pillow or a stuffed animal you can hug when you get lonely,) because you’re probably not going to take the advice. Lord knows I wouldn’t have when I was getting ready to move out around this time last year. Instead, I’m going to share a story. A short one, but something to at least keep in mind as you get ready and excited to start your new life wherever your journeys take you.

I was really active in band as a high schooler. I’m still really active in band – band is kind of my life and my ‘unprofessional passion,’ as I refer to it when I’m trying to make it sound impressive. I did as much band as I could, and one of those branches of it was the Zion Lutheran Church Band. I didn’t go to Zion, but I was friends with people who did, and I knew they were starting a church band there, so I hopped on board and joined the church band. It happened that one of my other close friends was there, too, so we ended up getting to spend a bunch of time together. This was my Junior year of high school, and my friend, Abi, it was her Sophomore year. Practically neighbors, but we started to become closer as time went on. I had my license, she didn’t, and she needed rides to school. We started a carpooling thing. It was pretty great, actually. We’d stop for hot chocolate at the various gas stations around town, finding that the nice quiet Clark station that was outside of the city limits had the best hot chocolate, we talked about the drama and gossip about what the next show for the marching band would be, we’d discuss the things that were going on with staff and members of the band program in general, and most importantly, we’d listen to music.

That Spring, Train’s California 37 was set to be released, and I was (still am) a huge Train fan. I downloaded the first single the second it was available, “Drive By”, and I forced Abi to listen to it nonstop until the rest of the record was out. This resulted in the two of us breaking down the song to unbearable measures – what exactly was it about? What did a hefty bag have to do with holding Pat Monahan’s love? Why did the group choose those specific chords here and there? These were the questions that tourtured our daily drives for about two weeks, and once the album was released, we skipped over the song every time.

Even though it’s been about two years since we even discussed the song, heck, since I listened to it that intently, Train was recently a featured artist on the World Cafè from WXPM in Philadelphia, and they played “Drive By.” All of the sudden, I was hit with the wall of memories that triggered me to write this post, and I just wanted to pass this on to the class that is about to embark on something that is scary, exciting, thrilling, and life-changing.

As ready as you probably are to get out of your town and start anew, don’t forget the small things. Remember your first concert. Remember your first school dance with someone of the opposite gender. Remember getting butterflies from talking in front of your freshman english class, and how great it felt when you finally got to turn in the last project you’d ever complete for an advanced history class. Remember sitting among your best high school friends at graduation, and being able to say good-bye at the graduation parties. Remember the summer nights on the lake and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July with your family. Remember staying up with your best friends of Sophomore year and eating an entire bowl of chocolate and other assorted candy. And when the song that brings back more memories than you ever thought comes on the radio, smile, and sing along.

I’m no expert – after all, I’m only going to be a Sophomore at Columbia this fall – but that’s my two cents of advice. You’re going to look back sooner than you think, and laugh as you tell your roommates stories about your high school adventures. But whatever happens, most importantly, be ready for it.

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Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota. BA in Radio/Business & Entrepreneurship, but right now just talking too much about running shoes and a Masters Student at DePaul (Journalism). Training for the marathon with various podcasts. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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