Life Goes On (2014-2015: Year in Review)

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”

–  George Eliot

 

I hope that what is left of my blogosphere fanbase will be relieved to hear I’m not dead! Though it’s been four long months since my last blog entry—which is by far the most extensive hiatus I’ve taken on this site—I most certainly haven’t given up on my entries here.

That’s how it usually goes, right? Overly ambitious writer kid tries his hand at a blog, cranks out posts for a few months, then burns out and the site fizzles into woeful obscurity. I don’t intend this to be me or the work I’ve built here, but I certainly don’t promise to increase my posting frequency…it has been a busy few months.

Speaking of which! Let’s get to the good stuff.

It’s been two years since I graduated high school. TWO. I’d like to think that the speed with which time passes will become easier to contemplate now that I’m in my twenties, but it hasn’t so far.

For me, this school year has been the most transformative one yet. I didn’t begin it on the most upbeat note…in fact, August of 2014 was perhaps the gloomiest era of my life. This had to do with a lot of things, most of which I’d prefer not to get into here. But I couldn’t wait to get back to college.

Once I did, my friends lifted me up exactly as I thought they would. I launched into a new semester of great memories, challenging-but-exciting new courses, and—most of all—an indescribable feeling of being where I belonged.

The second year of college is an intriguing one. Much like the second year of high school, it’s accompanied by a newfound surge of confidence. The ‘same routine, new year’ type of thing. In my case, that was especially true: I had the same awesome suitemates, in the same dorm room as freshman year, with the same friend group.

But of course, each year has its own challenges. School got, like, hard. (Imagine that!) And my best friend and I started having problems.

You’ve probably read about my best friend from high school. This was the person who was by my side through my entire senior year of high school, that amazing summer after, and even freshman year of college. But of course, going to different schools takes its toll. We started arguing a lot. And we had awesome times to make up for it. And then more arguing. And life went on.

Then something happened in February which I will never forget: I met a super cool dude in my math class. Quiet kid, but I got some feeling (no one can really explain these things) that we’d get along. So I obnoxiously persisted in trying to make conversation until we finally started talking. Then hanging out. Then deciding to be roommates next year.

Having to let my former best friend go was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And making a new one was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. And now, even as I type, we’re chilling watching TV, trying to wrap our heads around how this school year is at its end.

Don’t get me wrong. My life hasn’t been all full of sweets and roses. Several weeks ago, I was hurt by several friends in a more sharply devastating way than I’d ever experienced in my life. And one of the people involved was said new best friend. For a while, all the people involved hated one another. And we all reconsidered why we’re here. What ‘friendship’ really means. How much someone can apologize for how much they hurt you, and how far forgiveness can reach.

And life goes on.

And now we’re all okay. Certainly we’re more grown up, and stronger, and perhaps a little less wide-eyed than before. (Because yes, it is possible to be naïve even at twenty years old.) Because growing up doesn’t end once you become an adult. We all grow, all the time. We find friends and love them and hurt them and make up and love them again. You make a best friend who becomes your brother, then one day you find yourselves to be strangers, but perhaps even then your story isn’t finished. It’s just on pause for a little bit.

Life goes on. It simply does. No matter how much you’re hurting, or loving, or living. Whether you’re at your worst or on top of the world. People keep going, life moves forward, and in every pain there is a lesson. In every person, there is both good and bad; dark and light; hate and immense love.

That, I think, is what it’s really all about. What growing up means. You become nuanced and discover how everyone else is, too. You get knocked down, dust yourself off and get back up. You lose friends and gain new ones. You hold onto the memories of the previous year and the previous summer and previous people. And life—

Well, you know the rest.

To everyone who has been there for me in this past school year, thank you. And for anyone wondering if life gets better or worse: well, I can’t answer that. But I can tell you that it stays interesting.

Here’s to another interesting, amazing year.

Summer 2014 in Review

“One day at a time, this is enough. Don’t look back and grieve over the past for it is gone. Do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”

–  Unknown

 

It’s that time of year again. Whether you’re in middle school or high school or college, it’s almost time for classes to start. Summer has come to a close.

Every year, the night before I return to school, I write a post summarizing the summer. And since I head back to college tomorrow morning, here we are now.

I had a lot of anticipation riding on this summer, because it’s my first one since college. I had no idea if the friends (and ex-girlfriend) I said goodbye to last year would be exactly the same, or completely new people entirely.

This summer was by far full of some of the best memories I’ve ever made, and some of the worst. It was a constant ride of ups and downs, and in the end, I’m still not sure what to think of it.

Since I’m a college kid, classes ended nice and early, mid-May. I came back from college and felt all the immediate comforts of home: this great town, my high school friends who were dying to catch up with me, and my younger brother (AKA my best friend), who I’d managed to stay best friends with all year, despite us living a hundred miles apart.

The warm welcomes lasted for a few weeks, but by June, it hit me: I needed to do something productive this summer besides work on my book. Especially considering that said book received rejections on all pending full requests shortly after I got home.

Low point.

So, I applied for a job hauling books at the local library. And got called in for an interview. High point.

And didn’t get the job. Low point.

So I helped remodel my family’s house. I hung out with my ex-girlfriend without it being weird. My brother and I went on a trip with our Boy Scout troop to Ocean City. All high points.

July was full of its own highs and lows: I learned I had an inguinal hernia which would require surgery in August. Low point. But hey look, at least I didn’t take that job at the library. High point.

I then went on the best week-long adventure of my life.

Anyone familiar with scouts knows what Sea Base is. It’s a nationally recognized scout summer camp in Florida, and the older scouts in our troop headed there at the end of July for a week of sailing, fishing, staying up super late talking about life, and becoming much closer friends. The last night of the trip, we stayed in a hotel and ordered heaps of pizza and watched Ted on the flat screen.

Highest point.

August, like last summer, proved to be infinitely less fun.

I had my hernia surgery at the start of the month, and I got to spend the next two weeks bedridden watching the entire Harry Potter series, followed by every episode of The Office, in a row. I can’t decide what kind of point that was.

Then, in the final weeks of August, I did wonderfully productive things like re-sending my query letter out to a new round of agents, and packing, and getting myself pumped for the upcoming school year. And I did terribly upsetting things like have a falling-out with my brother, which I’m unsure is going to be resolved.

And now, I’m here. Same place as I was a year ago, the night before I left for college. Boy, it is astounding how life can feel like it moves so fast and so slow at the same time, amirite?

Let’s examine the end of last summer vs. the end of this one.

The blue are excerpts from my end of summer post last year.

Honestly, right now, everything’s happening way too fast for me to take any of it in. And I’m at the point where I can’t even imagine what my life will be like three days from now, let alone a week or a month or a year, like I used to. A year ago, around the time I started this blog, I had a pretty good idea that I’d be going to college right now. And I knew it would be busy. But did I know I would date the girl of my dreams, then have to break up with her? Or make a really awesome new best friend? Or get a full request from a literary agent?

No. I didn’t.

That makes me both excited and nervous for what life will be like one year from now, or even one month from now.

Hey, here we are a year later! I’m sitting at the same desk. Same computer. Sure, it has a new keyboard and monitor, but I’m still blogging, and I still have that same lingering nostalgia that keeps my thoughts going.

I have not had another girlfriend yet.  I got three new full requests from agents.

I want to go to college and have fun, but I don’t want to get sucked into anything and come out a different person. I love who I am, and more importantly, I love who my friends are. And if there’s one thing I’m really scared about, it’s that I’ll come home and find that they’re different.

My friends are the same. They’ve grown up, but they’re the same people. So am I.

I still don’t drink, by the way.

Today with my best friend was the more fun kind of goodbye, running around the neighborhood and of course, talking. It’s funny how in a lot of cases, that’s all you need. And when we said bye, no, it wasn’t emotional or anything like that. Mostly a “see ya,” same as the rest. But the difference with this was how fun it was, not to mention that it was the last of my goodbyes before I go. It was the perfect way to end summer and have a final social event before I go off to college.

This touches on my biggest regret of the summer. Last year, I saved my most important goodbye—my younger brother—for last, and it was the best one. I wanted to do the same thing this year, but we’ve both been super busy lately, and that combined with a lot of pressure on a lot of different fronts led to what I keep calling a “falling out” but what I’d like to think is really just a blip on the radar.

Needless to say, this summer overall was a bit less cut-and-dry then last year. Leaving home can be emotional, but the nice thing is, everyone makes a big DEAL of it, so it feels proper. The summer after college? That’s the awkward phase, the stretch where you’re trying to figure out if you should hang out with your new friends or your old ones and do you still have to do chores and why does it feel like half of your life is somewhere else.

I loved this summer, and I made a lot of great memories. I made a few not-great ones as well, but in the end, everything is what it is. Life goes on. Home is still home. Friends are still friends. Your brother is still your brother. And it all works out in the end, somehow.

I’m sad to say goodbye to summer, but I’m also hopeful for what this coming year will bring. Hey, my old friends and I survived one year apart from each other…we can do it again.

So, I suppose one big thing about me did change from last year: back then, I believed no friendship was permanent, that this all was about letting each other go and moving on. But now I know that true friendships really are permanent, that there are some people in your life who you’ll always love, even though you no longer walk the hallways with them anymore.

Let’s hope this year is the best one yet.

Here’s to permanence.

High School vs. College: Homecoming

“Only got just one life, this I’ve learned; who cares what they’re gonna say

I wanna dance, and love, and dance again.”

–  Jennifer Lopez, Dance Again

 

Me when I look at how long it’s been since my last post:

Well, to be fair, I did warn you.

So, let’s do this! Homecoming in high school versus college.

Anyone who’s been reading my blog since October 2012 might remember my posts about my last high school homecoming. First there was a summary of spirit week here, then my post shortly before my last homecoming dance, here.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like reading those. This post is more to compare the overall high school experience with Homecoming, rather than mine specifically. That being said, we’re all presumably short on time, so let’s get going.

 

Homecoming in High School:

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the general consensus is that (if done properly), Homecoming in high school is freaking awesome. Maybe even the highlight of the year, depending your grade level.

I’m not sure how Homecoming works in every high school across the country, but all the ones I’ve heard of have this sort of setup: the entire school week is filled with ‘spirit days,’ things like character day or wacky tacky day and rounding off with spirit day. Then you get out of class early on Friday to go to pep rally, you all scream your throats out, then go to the Homecoming game that night with all your friends. And then of course, the next day, there’s the Homecoming dance.

And then the following week you’re all sad because your hallways aren’t decorated anymore and you can’t go to school with your underwear outside of your pants without getting funny looks.

What can I say? High school Homecoming is fantastic. Granted, I didn’t get all that into it as a Freshman, but I still loved it. And by Senior year, I was dressing up for every day and finally got to participate in that moment I’d been waiting for since 9th grade: to charge onto the football field with the other seniors.

If you’ve already done this, you know how amazing it is. And if you haven’t done it yet, keep that in mind before you do.

 

Homecoming in College:

Unfortunately, I can’t be the BEST spokesperson for this element of college. Why? Because my particular university doesn’t have a football team.

I don’t mind that in the slightest. The only thing that really eliminated was the Homecoming game, and it rained that weekend anyway, so it didn’t make a difference.

That being said, even if we did have a football team, I’m prepared to say that college Homecoming isn’t nearly as fun as high school.

There are probably a few college students ready to hurt me for that last sentence, but I think the majority of them agree. In college, you don’t dress up as your favorite superheroes or have a class color you wear or anything like that. There’s ‘spirit week,’ but it’s things like having a bonfire or a handful of campus activities you can attend with your friends if you want.

And don’t get me wrong, I did attend. And they were pretty fun. But there was one key element missing that was everywhere in high school: cohesion. You didn’t go to the pep rally and sit grouped by class and try to win the spirit stick. You all just kind of went if you felt like it. There was no moment when you were in the stands cheering with all of your classmates.

Maybe there are at some universities, and I’m jealous if that’s the case. But even if there was that, I’m sure there are few (if any) campuses that hold Homecoming dances just like the ones in high school.

Don’t get me wrong, there are probably dance parties. We’ve had a few of those at our school. But they’re informal. You don’t ask a date, you don’t get all dressed up, you don’t take tons of pictures beforehand. You don’t slow dance. You don’t drive there and back and go out to dinner. All of that is a part of high school dances, and you leave it behind when you go to college.

Of course, I knew that. Anyone who read my pre-Prom post could probably tell that I understood how good I had it then. But just because you know how good something is, doesn’t make it much easier when it’s gone.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends in eleventh grade texted me, asking if I thought he should go to Homecoming since it would be his third one, plus he would only be in a group. I said absolutely, yes. First of all, because I’ve gone to dances with groups before and it’s easily as fun as having a date. And second of all, because I can’t imagine looking back on high school knowing there was a Homecoming dance I chose not to attend. Yeah, some of them had horrible music. One of the dances, my friends and I even left early. But we just went somewhere else, and we still had an amazing night. You have those in college, too, but they’re different. You’re not in a fancy suit or dress going out to dinner then heading to a gym to flail around like a mentally impaired gorilla.

I know, some people dislike that whole aspect. Quite a few of my friends in high school never went to dances because the music “was trashy” or it “wasn’t that fun.” At the risk of sounding blunt…live a little! You don’t get this chance in college, I promise. No imitation is close enough. So, my advice to even the youngest of high school freshmen: par-tici-pate. Dress up for the spirit days, even if you look ridiculous. Go to the Homecoming game even if it’s freezing. Go to the dance even if it’s with a group and the music is horrendous and the gym is roughly the temperature of Mordor. At least then, when you’re in college, you can look back and say you tried. And trust me, I’d much rather miss things I used to do, rather than things I chose not to.

So, High School vs. College: Homecoming.

Winner: High School. Hands down.

Enjoy it while you can, guys.

Better Late Than Never (Happy Birthday, Blog)

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, then to write for the public and have no self.”

–  Cyril Connolly

 

I think the first thing I should say in this post is that there is a 500-year-old statue of a man eating a sack of babies in Bern, Switzerland, and nobody is sure why.

Post a picture? Why, don’t mind if I do.

statue

The reason I started with that? Because the “platform” (if you want to call it that) of my blog was originally something like “hey, even if my posts are all awful, I’ll try to include random facts with them so you’ll have learned something.” And since I’m celebrating the first birthday of my blog, I felt like that was a good place to drop a random fact.

So, then. To the post!

Tonight I’ll just be talking about my blog. This can be a refresher for anyone who hasn’t read my stuff in a while (I don’t blame you, given my posting rate) and an intro for anyone just now stumbling across it.

I started my blog a year ago, plus a few days added in for how long it took me to find time to write this post. The actual anniversary is September 9th, but I’m putting this up on the 22nd.

tumblr_inline_mfnafcCqZz1rb6tql

The blog was named after my favorite movie, Super 8, and the topics I intended to blog about included writing, movies, and maybe the occasional ‘growing up’ schpeel.

Well, now here I am, one year later. I’ve gone from being at the start of my senior year to a kid who’s graduated high school and is settled into college. My blog topics went in a bit of a different direction than I originally intended. First, I wrote posts going through the steps of writing a book, something I was finishing up at the time. But then as I ran out of those, life kicked in, and I started writing about that. I outlined my last days of school, and my first full request from a New York literary agent.

So now, my posts—when I have time to write them—are more focused on growing up, with the occasional writing or movie commentary thrown in, as well.

I don’t have time to post as much as I used to. Let’s just talk about THAT for a second. For most of senior year, I posted on average 2-3 times a week, sometimes four. Over summer, ironically, I had less time. And now, I’m down to a few times a MONTH.

Yikes.

I wish I could promise it’ll get better, but really, it won’t. I hope everyone will still care enough to read what I can post, and I understand if you don’t. I started this thing with zero followers, and even if I hit that number again, I’ll keep writing. The activity of this blog might get knocked down a few notches, but it’ll never stop completely. I’ll always be here.

How have I changed personally, in the past year? Not that you really care, but I’ll go through it anyway. For starters, there’s the whole thing of me graduating high school, finishing my novel, and getting a full request from an agent. But I’ve also developed on a personal level. I came to appreciate everything high school has to offer, and learned to let it go. I dated a girl I never thought I’d get the chance to date, then broke up with her, then moved on. It’s funny how you can tell people about that kind of stuff and they’ll say, “well, it’s like it never happened at all,” when you know of course that’s not true at all.

I think that’s life, to go broad with the topic. It’s about staying YOU outwardly, but growing inwardly, and balancing all of that. In short: it’s about accepting you’ll change and thus resolving to change for the better. I’d like to think I’ve done that, though I also think I’ve changed less than most people do.

My writing, I think, is the same way: outwardly, it hasn’t changed much. My style was relatively solid when I started, and I think it still is. But the elements behind it have developed quite a bit. 

I’ve made a lot of new friends since last September, and quite a few of them have changed my life in major ways. I’m thinking particularly of my best friend, one of the most thoughtful, opinionated, supportive, unreliable people I know. Anyone know someone like that? They’re awesome, but the only thing they’re really consistent about is being inconsistent.

I’m not trying to insult my best friend. I’m trying to make a point, that being, all of those adjectives I listed, both good and bad, they form one interesting person. Talking to him and hanging out (or not hanging out because he never checked with his parents) definitely exposed me to a variety of feelings, especially that pesky one where you love someone like a brother and want to decapitate them at the same time.

That, combined with all the emotions of finishing high school and starting college…all of these have added depth to my writing in a way no one can really see, but it’s there, and I know it is. I guess that’s all that really counts, right?

Anyway, I’ll close by roping back to the main subject of tonight: this blog.

I promise to keep it going, however sporadic the posting will be. I’ll still review movies—both old and new—and talk about life as it comes. And I’ll most certainly keep it updated regarding my progress as an author.

After all, who knows where I’ll be a year from now?

Before I Go (On Goodbyes, Part 2)

“There are reasons we met, reasons for the good and the bad times, and more importantly, a reason to end. We have more to learn, more to experience, and more loving left in this lifetime.”

–  Unknown

 

Hi there, people I haven’t blogged to in a week! To be honest, I haven’t given a second’s thought to blogging since this past Sunday. That’s mostly because of packing for college, finishing a manuscript, saying goodbye to my friends as they leave, and basically setting up my life for moving into college. So I haven’t had much time for WordPress.

Speaking of college: I go there tomorrow. As in, move out of my house and into my dorm.

Except I’m posting this in the morning, so it’s really TODAY, even though I wrote this Friday night.

Wrapping up my life here hasn’t really gone like I thought it would. For one thing, I didn’t anticipate how busy I’d be. I mean, I knew I’d be swamped, but not all day, every day for my last week here. Today was the busiest of them all, but I got everything done.

Another thing that really struck me is how calm I’ve been about it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of emotional ups and downs these past few days. I go from being happy to sad to indifferent in about an hour, and I’ve had arguments with a few people I really care about, including my parents and my best friend.

But the actual goodbyes have been calm. One by one, I’ve seen each of my close friends for the last time, and there haven’t been any tears, drama, or regrets. It’s mostly been, “well, I’ll see you for Thanksgiving; until then, keep in touch and stay the same!”

That’s the gist of it, anyway.

A few exceptions to that. One was my girlfriend, who I already mentioned. That hurt a lot more and took a day or two to get over, but now, we’re all adjusted. I went over to her house after we broke up, the day before she left for college, and we had a fun talk.

The other exception is one I had about four hours ago, when I said goodbye to my best friend. I’ve only really been close friends with him for the past year or so, but it’s been a busy year. We’ve talked a lot about school, growing up and that sort of fun stuff, and the more guy-oriented topics like girls and all that. A few of those talks have been the 2 AM types, which I think are the real kind.

Today was the more fun kind of goodbye, running around the neighborhood and of course, talking. It’s funny how in a lot of cases, that’s all you need. And when we said bye, no, it wasn’t emotional or anything like that. Mostly a “see ya,” same as the rest. But the difference with this was how fun it was, not to mention that it was the last of my goodbyes before I go. It was the perfect way to end summer and have a final social event before I go off to college.

You’d think I’d be all broken up about it, right? After all, I was on a severe emotional low on my last day of high school. But I think the difference is that the end of high school is something definitive. No going back. With friends, you can always text or call them. It might get harder as years go by, but you still can.

So, that makes this my big emotional post the night before I start the rest of my life, right?

I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I’m really not that fussed about all of this. Like I said, I’m surprised how tear-free all of this leaving has been, and still is. Maybe it’ll hit me in a week or two and I’ll break down into a huge emotional wreck on my way to Calc.

But. Probably not.

Honestly, right now, everything’s happening way too fast for me to take any of it in. And I’m at the point where I can’t even imagine what my life will be like three days from now, let alone a week or a month or a year, like I used to. A year ago, around the time I started this blog, I had a pretty good idea that I’d be going to college right now. And I knew it would be busy. But did I know I would date the girl of my dreams, then have to break up with her? Or make a really awesome new best friend? Or get a full request from a literary agent?

No. I didn’t.

That makes me both excited and nervous for what life will be like one year from now, or even one month from now. I want to go to college and have fun, but I don’t want to get sucked into anything and come out a different person. I love who I am, and more importantly, I love who my friends are. And if there’s one thing I’m really scared about, it’s that I’ll come home and find that they’re different.

But I don’t have time to worry about that now. Right now, I have to worry about settling into my dorm, and getting along with my roommates, and finding my way around campus. And I’m not really saying goodbye to the friends I have here. Just knocking them down one priority notch for a few months.

So, to wrap it up before my last night in my own bed (for a while): thank you to everyone who’s gotten me here, but especially to the people I love. My amazing family, all my friends, my still-awesome ex-girlfriend, and my best friend who I really hope will keep that title for a good long time. You all have gotten me to this spectacular point in my life, and I’m ready to make the most of it.

Here I go.

Here’s a Fun Nostalgia Game

“So don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s too late, cause these are the best days

There’s always something tomorrow, so I say, let’s make the best of tonight

Here comes the rest of our lives.”

–  Graham Colton, “Best Days”

 

Let’s say you stop me on the street (after creepily tracing my identity and locating where I live, something I hope never happens) and ask me a question. The question: “out of all the good memories you have, what is the most special day of the year to you?” If you asked me that, I would have a complicated answer. I would say something about how there are too many awesome days with awesome memories to pick from. That’s a good answer, right?

But, if you’d asked me the same question—say, six months ago—I’d have had a much simpler answer: the most special day of the year, as related to my favorite memories, is July 19th.

I’ll try to keep the explanation brief, but essentially, that was the first time my middle school friends and I all got together and hung out after graduation. I didn’t have too much of a social life in eighth grade. But, seven of us decided to see the sixth Harry Potter movie the summer before high school, and it was one of the highlights of my summer.

For a while, I considered that one of my most fun social outings. Every July 19th in years to come, when those friends and I all moved further and further into high school, the memory always stuck out. Then last year—July 19, 2012—I made a memory just as good. It was the last day of high adventure summer camp with a bunch of close friends, and I spent the last evening sleeping in a hammock in the rain (yes, I did that) and trying to enjoy the last hours of my last summer camp.

So yes. July 19th is pretty important to me, for the most random of reasons. And thus, I was in an especially nostalgic mood today when something struck me. I unknowingly played a little game, which I’ll spell out for everyone now.

Wrong kind, wrong kind!

Wrong kind, wrong kind!

 

A Fun and Completely Made Up Nostalgia Game

Alrighty, players, here’s how it works.

 

Step 1: Pick a form of media you enjoy

It can be personal photographs, music, movies, whatever. Heck, pick memories! That isn’t technically media, but it’ll work.

The version I played was with photographs, and that probably works the best. But, choose what you like.

 

Step 2: Pick out your top five favorites of this media

So essentially your top five favorite photographs, songs, or movies. Don’t overcomplicate this! You probably have your top five favorite photos hanging up in your room, or saved in a computer folder, or in your list of old phone backgrounds. If you don’t know what your top five favorite songs are, look at your “Top 25 played” playlist in iTunes (that’s a fun game all on its own, let me tell you). And I can safely assume you have at least three, if not five, favorite movies.

Everyone have their “five favorites” of their chosen media?

 

Step 3: Count how many of these five items existed a year ago

Again, don’t overcomplicate this. Look at your five favorite songs, movies, pictures or memories and see how many of them existed on July 19, 2012 (or a year ago from whenever you’re reading this).

 

Step 4: The Results

Here’s the part I really wanted to blog about, and I’m sorry that this game doesn’t have a spectacular and fun ending. But I hope it was interesting to you.

Allow me to give some background: I came up with this post when I was sitting in my room. I have a wall right next to my bed with eight photos hanging up, eight of my favorite ones. Two are from Prom, two are from my senior class trip to Boston, two are of my Ideal Readers and I, one is from my 18th birthday party, and one is from my Senior Week trip.

I glanced at these today, and I realized something: that while summer camp one year ago might FEEL like yesterday, it wasn’t. And no matter how clearly I remember one year ago, not a single one of these pictures had been taken back then. With my five favorite songs, four of them were released after July 2012. Favorite movies? Same thing. I was blown away by how much had happened in what felt like no time at all.

As usual with my posts, you’re probably wondering what the point of all this is. I don’t really know. It does make me feel better to know I can go one year and build all these memories but still stay the same person. I still act the same as in 2012, which is (was) one of my main worries about summer next year. I’ll have finished my freshman year of college, and I’m a little nervous how that’s going to change me.

But, who says it will? With any luck, I’ll be sitting here typing one year from now, still with the same personality and same love for the friends I made throughout high school.

Except hopefully, I’ll have another group of pictures. Not to replace the old set…just to hang right beside it.

My Last Campout Ever

“Time goes, you say? Alas, time stays. We go.”

–  Austin Dobson

 

Around a year ago, I was on a trip with Boy Scouts and started dishing out my opinions on quite a few things. Mostly books and movies, but I touched on the music industry as well. By the end of the afternoon, several people told me the same thing: “Dude, you should get a blog.”

The main reason I wanted a blog, other than to give out opinions, was because words are concrete. You can write about a life experience as soon as it’s over, and that writing will always be there. I’m going to use that to my advantage tonight, because after all my writing about scout campouts, I got back yesterday from the last one I would ever attend. And I think I owe it to my friends who went with me to write a good, solid summary of it, so that they can go back to it whenever they want same as me.

Our troop goes to see the ocean every June. Last year was my first time going on this trip, and my first time ever seeing an ocean. It became my favorite trip other than the Christmas Campout, which I blogged about back in December.

So then, my last campout ever. It was awesome; in fact, I’d be willing to say it’s the best of all the scout campouts I’ve been on in the past seven years. I’ll do my usual daily breakdown, since I can assume all non-interested readers have already closed out the post.

 

Day 1: Friday, June 14, 2013

I was already in a good mood when I showed up at the meeting point at noon, having spent the morning hanging out with my girlfriend after going out to breakfast. Good part number one clicked into place when I was assigned the best car arrangement: me and two close friends. One of them I’ve known for four years and talk with a lot; the other is my best friend who also happens to be one of my Ideal Readers.

Anyway. The ride up was fun, mostly spent talking, arguing with each other, and programming the car’s amazing GPS—the thing was seriously magical—to take us to a McDonald’s, because we were ready to implode with hunger.

Fifteen minutes later…

“That’ll be $8.65.”

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And thus, I set a new record: most money I’ve ever spent at McDonald’s.

The rest of the drive there was pretty relaxed, as was set-up. We all pitched our tents in the sand in a campsite practically next to the ocean, which made for an awesome layout. Then after we’d all changed and gotten settled, it was time for a walk down to the beach.

I’d forgotten how pretty it was.

It was relaxing hanging out on the beach and talking, though we had some interesting company in the distance. I just talked with my best friend (one of the people in the car) and another close friend (not in the car) about politics; specifically, which forms of dictatorship we would prefer to enact if we were ever in charge of the world.

You know, normal teenage stuff.

The kicker of the night, though, came when we were preparing to head off to bed. A wind came through the site (that’s pretty normal). Then our tents started getting ripped out of the ground (that isn’t).

Mine was the coolest, because it did a triple backflip and scrambled up all of my possessions like a roller coaster ride. I must say, I’ve been in scouts for seven years, and the experience of trying to secure my tent in a mini-hurricane while everything was blowing around was an entirely new sensation. It was crazily scary during the time, but great to look back on. After securing our tents, we took shelter in the cars for a few minutes while the worst of it passed.

Luckily, we didn’t have much damage, unless you count a tipped over porta-potti. Which in Scouts, maybe you do.

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Day 2: Saturday, June 15, 2013

My day hit the ground running when I got up early to watch the sun come up.

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The morning wasn’t complicated. We ate breakfast, changed, and all walked down to the beach. Me, my best friend, and our politics-talking buddy from last night all found a clear area in the sand and laid down to relax. When we were younger scouts, we all went swimming and splashing around in the ocean. But we’d done that before, the water was chilly, and we were tired. Being a teenager is hard work. So, we just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

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We also talked. Kind of a lot. The main subject of the conversation was high school, since out of the three of us one was in it, one had just finished, and one was about to start. A quote from the conversation that I think is worth putting on my blog: “Everyone changes in high school. Some for better, some for worse. But everyone changes.”

After lunch, my tradition gears kicked in, and the four older scouts—myself included—walked to a gift shop a bit up the road to buy milkshakes. I know, going to a rest stop during a campout is kind of cheating, but we were on the beach. Plus, we’d gotten milkshakes last year, which means we’d done it every year I’d gone.

After this we headed back to the beach and resumed our talk, though the topic this time around was girls and relationships, and how complicated they were in high school. This was enough conversation to keep us busy until 4 PM, when we headed right back to the gift shop.

Again, this was tradition: get milkshakes at the start of the afternoon, get sodas and ice cream at the end. The place sells the soda in these cool aluminum bottles, which totally makes it worth the $4.

B.S. is a popular game on campouts, and we played it along with spoons up until dinner. Then after dinner it was relatively mellow: get a campfire going and change into sleeping clothes. The sunset wasn’t too bad either.

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I decided to sleep outside my tent, just as I had last year. When I’d done it then, you could see the stars and there was a nice breeze and it was nice to be alone.

That was all true this year except the last part, because half the troop decided to join me. I was actually glad of that, though, because it meant I could talk with everyone before I fell asleep (I hadn’t done that since January, my last campout as a kid).

My best friend and I stayed up until roughly 2 AM talking, which was kind of the highlight. First topic: movies. Specifically, The Dictator and the funniest lines from it. Then it was talk of how weird it was I was leaving for college soon, and how I would make a bunch of new friends. The last topic was the bulk of the conversation: stuff that was bothering us.

Sound vague? Sorry, that’s as detailed as I’m getting. Each of us had a few things bothering us—99% of them having to do with girls—and neither of us really liked talking to other people about them. So, naturally, we talked to each other about them. Confusing? Yeah, life gets like that a lot.

Around 1 AM came one more adventure to close out my camping experience.

As described, I was talking to my best friend. Then I hear movement behind me (keep in mind, I’m laying in a sleeping bag on the sand). I look up and see something towering over me. And it takes me a minute to believe it, because that something is a wild horse.

My friend and I were both whispering, since it was nighttime, and our whisper-screaming—“OH MY GOD, A HORSE!”—must have been comical. I curled up into a ball and continued whisper-yelling as the horse walked over to another scout, picked up their flashlight in its teeth, and galloped away.

Well if that didn’t close out my camping experience.

 

That’s about it for the campout. In the morning we just packed up and drove home, once again listening to music. Specifically “Radioactive” and Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack,” which we had no shame in singing to at the top of our lungs.

Most of our camping gear was full of sand, my tent was a few stakes short due to the storm, we were all sunburned, and my heart was permanently beating faster due to the almost-being-trampled-by-a-horse incident. But it was all worth it, and it was all part of what camping is about: adventure.

As I said, though, the highlight has to be the talking with my best friend. I know that’s vague and probably meaningless to a lot of people, but I’m sure everyone can think of at least one similar thing they’ve done. Getting to know someone about as well as you can is an interesting experience, especially if you’ll be saying bye to all of your friends soon, including them.

But as always, I try to close on a note of optimism. I try to look at how much I’ve grown in the last year alone, considering this trip is the one where people suggested I get a blog.

These seven years of camping have been the best of my life so far, and it’s hard to imagine not going on a scout trip again. But I’m grateful for the memories, for the pictures and jokes and bro talks, and everything that makes days worth waking up for.

Right now I’m happy about all that and sad about leaving it behind, and kind of excited for how I’ll change in the next year but also scared about it. Confusing, right?

Life gets like that a lot.