The summer after high school marks the end of countless things. Many of these things you’ve been looking forward to for years, others not so much. In my case, the end of high school comes with a whole different type of end.
College readiness is a lecture I’m sure we’ve all had to sit through at some point in our lives. For me, it was my eighth grade language arts teacher droning on and on about why college is important, why you need to take school seriously now in order to get into the college you want and of course, the whole conversation on how going to college broadens all of your opportunities in life, yadda yadda yadda.
The one point that really stood out to me, though, was the last five minutes of the lecture where my beloved teacher stated something I thought I would never have to think about again: “And don’t, under any circumstances, try to make high school relationships work throughout college, whether it’s a boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend. Meet new people, put yourself out there, don’t do anything that might hinder your ability to completely transform into the person you want to be.” Right then the bell rang and I hurried to eighth hour history, where my crush and I happened to sit right next to each other.
I never thought that I would think back to that one college readiness lesson in eighth grade when I was a senior. Yet, here I am — the echo of Mrs. W’s voice playing in the back of my head, as I get ready to hang out with my eighth grade history crush. Believe it or not, things actually did work out for me that time. The innocent crush I had as a wide-eyed eighth grader turned into a wonderful relationship later that year and four years later, it still stands. As college move-in dates for both my boyfriend, Henry, and me draws near it seems as if Semisonic’s “Closing Time” is more true than ever: “every beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
“So, what day do you like want to break up? Like before move-in day or after?” Henry asked me after binge-watching Netflix and wondering why I wasted a perfectly good day of makeup to watch TV.
“I don’t really know. I feel like if we break up before it won’t last, since we’ll still be living in the same town. If we wait until after we move in, though, it might be hard being in a whole new setting on top of dealing with a breakup.” I quickly realized it might’ve come across as if I had already given this quite a bit of thought.
You wouldn’t really expect a couple in a four-year relationship to have this sort of conversation, we’re young and in love, all of the movies and Nicholas Sparks’ books made it seem like we should be hopeful, not choosing our relationship’s expiration date. I’d like to consider Henry and myself as realists, though. With us being states away next year, and for many years afterwards, we’ve decided to end this chapter of our lives in full.
Many people seem skeptical when they hear of our plans for next year, they wonder why we’re even still together if we know we’re going to be breaking up or how we could still say we love each other if we’re just going to end things. I guess I don’t blame them for wondering, though, like I said we’re supposed to be young and in love, and this isn’t what young and in love people do when they move away from each other.
Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps we’re being stupid and we should try to make it work or call it quits right now, rip off the Band-Aid. The only problem with that is that we are best friends. We can’t call it off right now because we’d turn to our best friend to talk about the break up, which happens to be each other.
Maybe our relationship was doomed from the start. As innocent and eager eighth graders our relationship as official boyfriend and girlfriend was easily confused with a friendship relationship. We would still mess around in woodshop, much to our teacher’s dismay, and we would still give each other hell in advisory. We started as friends and my only hope is that we can remain friends.
“So why don’t you try to make it work?” This is the question that always seems to come up. New experiences, that’s why. That’s what college is about, right? That’s what we’ve been told since the start. You meet new people, go on new adventures and travel the world. Worry about what someone eight hours away is doing? Not so much. This is where our mutual breakup stemmed from. We wanted each other to be able to experience new things and really take in the whole college experience without feeling like we have to worry about what someone else is doing or how what we’re doing may affect someone else.
Henry and I had a breathtaking and, at most times, hectic relationship. The four years we spent together were amazing and helped us learn about not only relationships, but also ourselves. We’ve acknowledged the fact that we are extremely fortunate to experience our first day of high school, first prom and many other firsts together and even more fortunate to experience the last of many things together.
This was a chapter of our lives that will always be bookmarked and perhaps this chapter isn’t over. Perhaps, after we’ve discovered what it is like to be by ourselves, we’ll meet again and the hectic love I grew up on will resume once more.
Perhaps, though, this goodbye is the final goodbye, which makes our mutual breakup that much more important. The rest of our lives we’ll be meeting new people, and there’s no way of knowing that we are meant for each other, if we haven’t had the opportunity to meet other people.
This is going to suck. There’s no other way to put it. Relationship breakups are hard, but the friendship breakup will be even harder. My only wish for Henry is that he meets someone who sets his heart on fire and if that’s not me, I only hope that he remembers that I’ll always be a friend.
Lead Image Credit: Disney Channel, Salty Pictures and First Street Films