By the windowsill

I spent most of my mornings during high school sitting in places that I wasn’t supposed to sit. Well, I was technically allowed to, but while most people sat in the library, the cafeteria or classrooms before class started, I would sit on the floor of the hallway. 

My sister and I would arrive at least 20 minutes early every morning, and we wanted to sit somewhere out of the way while we waited. Freshman and sophomore year we drifted around a lot more, sitting in stairwells or outside in the courtyard, but by junior year we had found our spot: the windowsill. Specifically, the one on the top floor above the ninth-grade entrance.

Our friends would join us when they arrived, and pretty soon we were taking up a good portion of the hallway. We would sprawl out along the wall as we did last-minute homework and talked. With the window right there, we could sit up on the ledge and look outside, open the windows for a breeze or close them and enjoy the air conditioning when it got too hot. We’d talk to the teachers who had classes around us, and we got to watch the school slowly come alive as more and more people arrived.

The windowsill wasn’t a big part of my day. It was just a small routine that we all got used to. Still, when I think about what I miss most about having spent the last year completely online, it’s one of the first things that comes to mind. A lot of things could be replaced or changed to fit the online format, but things like that—things that made West really feel like West—can’t be replaced.

A lot of the learning is the same, classes haven’t changed that much in the grand scheme of things, but the feeling of school is completely gone. I don’t get to experience the mad dash to the lunchroom as soon as the bell rings, or the quiet calmness of the library right before it closes. I don’t get to eat lunch on top of the desks in a teacher’s classroom or on the floor of the hallway.

In a sense, I suppose, being online has prepared me for graduation. I’ve already experienced so much of high school for the last time. I’ve put away my last books while volunteering at the library, waited in the line at the parking lot for the last time and spent my last morning at the windowsill. I’m going to miss West, but in a way, it kind of feels like I’ve already left. But goodbye for real, West. Thanks for everything.

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