My morning drive to work takes me past a local high school.
During those morning treks, I always glance over at the student parking lot and see vehicles of all shapes and sizes and descriptions. For the seniors, this part of their life is quickly drawing to a close.
With graduation approaching for another year, the majority of high school seniors are no doubt more than ready to leave their school days at this level behind. Each one seemed to be counting down the days, the hours even, until their tassels were officially turned.
It’s probably that way at any high school in our country whether large or small. It’s a safe bet to say 99 percent of seniors can’t leave their alma mater for the last time quick enough.
Let it be known I was actually among that one percent that didn’t want those days to end. I’m not going to pretend everything was perfect back then. Peer pressures and being ridiculed at times are things I certainly don’t miss.
I was never the most popular student. I never received the attention of the most female schoolmates and I certainly was not the best athlete in the school. I wasn’t the smartest, either.
Still, I was smart enough to be able to see the bigger picture in all of it. For the majority of my first 18 years, going to school with many of the same people became my routine. It wasn’t always perfect but I knew the routine and knew what to expect day to day. Some days were better than others and at times I probably did wish I could leave it all behind.
However, I also knew (even at an age when I was still learning) that things were about to change in a big way. While my education would continue through four years of college, the classes would be harder. I would also be going away to college so my comfort zone of my home and my hometown were not going to be there they had always been before.
I remember the night before my small high school class graduated my classmates and our parents held a cookout in honor of the event. With the exception of a couple of my fellow Class of 1989 members most were eager to dive head first into the proverbial empty pool that awaited them.
During that pre-graduation cookout I vividly recall a conversion with a classmate.
“You know things will never be like this again,” he said to me.
“I know,” was my response. “I know.”
Following graduation several members of my class went on a senior trip to Panama City Beach. We stayed several days and soaked up the Florida sun and each other’s company as a group for the last time.
Some of my classmates I have not seen since that trip. Others I have kept in touch with even though I live an hour from my hometown. Some are even experiencing our alma mater in a different way now as their own children are students at the same place walking the hallways we used to.
I always tell high school seniors to not rush the end of this chapter of their lives. It will end soon enough as some continue their education, some enter the military and some immediately go in the work force.
A while back I asked a former classmate what he missed most about being young.
“Not paying bills,” was his immediate answer.
As the diplomas are handed out to the Class of 2021, I think back to the Class of 1989 and its graduation night. Since graduating there have certainly been good times but there is always the stress of work, paying bills and, for most, a family of their own.
The carefree days of youth at times seem light years behind us and there still is no time machine in sight.
Chris Bridges is a former sports editor of The Walton Tribune and The Covington News. You can email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.