When I think about my high school experience in (mostly) hindsight, it’s clear that my time here wasn’t at all like the nostalgic coming-of-age movie I had envisioned for myself so often as a little girl. Due to the pandemic, my experience as a teenager was forced to become quiet, a bubble in which I spent more time with myself than with anyone else. To be honest, I don’t really have any memories from my sophomore year: an enigma that lived its life to completion in the confines of my room. Still facing the effects of lockdown as a member of the graduating class, I struggled to accept this for a while, wondering if I’d been robbed of an experience that’s seemingly always made out to be one of the defining moments of one’s life.
I figured something out recently, however, as I was looking through my phone for photos to put on my graduation card. Slowly scrolling through all the events I’d been through in the past four years that had been deemed significant enough to immortalize with a picture, some crazy but most mundane, a great deal of nostalgia and an even greater sense of pride washed over me. There was a photo of a friend and me in my car last summer, zooming down the highway singing to Lana Del Rey, our cheeks rosy from the heat of the afternoon sun. It looked like a snapshot taken right out of a movie, and it’s a picture that I know I’ll surely put in photo albums dedicated to my childhood someday. More echoes followed this one: skateboarding for the first time with a group of strangers so late at night that it was already morning, meeting a cosplayer from one of my favorite video games while walking the streets of San Francisco, sneaking into a field of tall grass and making crowns from the wildflowers (that I still keep on my windshield to this day). I had a lot less time than people in other graduating classes to really embrace the ins and outs of high school, but taking a trip down memory lane made me realize that life, in its entirety, isn’t meant to be a movie, but instead a photo album filled with snapshots of our favorite scenes.