Senior year of high school we were asked to write a “Self Paper.” I stumbled across it the other day. Adrift in my poorly organized Documents folder, I searched “Senior Year,” and was mistakenly directed to that earlier file. The “Self Paper” was as nebulous as it sounds — a way for English teachers to motivate some self-reflection before our days were no longer regulated by bells, carpools, family dinners, and curfews.
If you’re feeling kind, indulge my high-school self in some of her closing thoughts on eighteen years in suburbia — she didn’t expect anyone to ever read this except herself and her English teacher/tennis coach (she didn’t typically write for an audience), but here we are. You can laugh if you’d like — I did, and she can’t hear you now. If you don’t think you can bear it, feel free to skip to the final paragraph.
“As I am now, I feel like a shell. Not hollow, but a foundation, formed from the fused molecules of every event, every minute moment of my life up to this point. The shell is strong, but it is open, ready to be filled with knowledge, with wisdom, with experience. I feel anxious, but excited, ready to commence.”
Reading old writing is like watching an old home video, or looking through photo albums. You recognize yourself in that moment: you on the couch that’s now gone, petting the dog that’s now dead, but in the same house you’ve lived in since you were born. Or, what you believe you remember as an authentic, genuine memory may only exist because after being confronted with a little bit of yourself that’s harder to recognize, you’re forced to confabulate, just a little.
Reading my writing from senior year (the first one) feels a little bit like that — I recognize it, I mean, I typed those words on this same keyboard not too long ago, but they sound impossibly sweet, impossibly optimistic (the next sentence had a Walden quotation, but I’ll spare you). That soon-to-be high school graduate thought that somehow the next four years would complete a proper narrative arc, would deliver answers, closure, adulthood. It was a cute thought. But judge my high-school self as I may, reading my writing from senior year made me realize that I feel uncannily similar to how I did four years ago. Except maybe this time, a little less ready.
For our twenty-eighth issue we present Resurrection. If you like stories and poems about legacy, loss, murdered dogs, and getting caught in the rain, this one’s for you. We apologize for our long absence, but we promise we’re here to stay. In the Jon Snow kind of way, not the White Walker kind of way.