Photographs. I spent so much of my early childhood resenting them. As a young child, I never understood why my parents would constantly be pushing me to pose for photos. To me, being present in that single moment meant so much more than trying to look perfect for some posed memory. But, once I started high school, remembering certain childhood memories became harder. That is when the photos I had fought so intensely against taking, helped trigger my happy memories. The photographs that resonated with the most were the candid ones, as they reminded me of those precious small moments that may go by forgotten.
Perhaps it was a strong desire to share those feelings of nostalgia with others which lead to me to becoming a school newspaper photographer. Capturing the various important events for the student body, was also surprisingly fun. It was a great hobby that had helped me get through my three years of high school. And with only one more year left on the paper, I knew I had to make the most of it.
Driving down the highway on my way to school, that is all I could really think about. The reality of life and responsibility was going to hit me soon, and I want to enjoy these days of my youth for as long as I can. As I pull into parking lot, I smile at the groups of seniors taking photos with their cars all decorated. Among them I spot my friends, and a certain friend looking especially upset.
“Priya! Literally when are you never running late! I don’t understand why it is so incredibly difficult to be on time for once, school is starting in less than five minutes and we have to take our first day of senior year pictures!” exclaims my friend Sarah as I walk towards her. I look to Tom and he looks equally annoyed. Gina was the only one who appeared to seem somewhat relieved by my late appearance and smiles appreciatively at me.
“Well you know I’m super indecisive! It took me forever to finally decide on the right earrings and necklace, but now that I’m here I’ll quickly take pictures of you guys,” I reason with Sarah.
She sighs exaggeratedly and says “Okay, okay makes sense just hurry up and make sure we can find someone to take group pictures with all of us.”
I nod and begin taking photos of them, trying to direct them and get them in the best lighting possible. This did take more than five minutes though, which means we were now all running late for homeroom. To Sarah though, the bigger issue on hand was the fact that half of the kids had left making it harder to find someone to take pictures of all of us.
“Sarah calm down, I’m sure someone here will be willing to take photos of us. There’s still plenty of kids left,” I tell her.
“Priya, we need someone as good as you for these pictures. Finding that will not be easy in this small crowd. Wait…hey, what about David over there! Wasn’t he in some photography elective of yours?” Sarah asks me excitingly.
I know she had been crushing on David throughout high school, but he was the last person to ask for this job. I look over to his friend group, all immersed in taking their photos. Kind and friendly they were, but judgmental and exclusive could also be used to describe them. It was quite an odd thing, but some things were just like that. Amid staring off into his group, I suddenly make eye contact with a certain blue-eyed boy. Alex. I quickly look away, finding myself embarrassed for staring at his friends for so long. I scan the parking lot looking for one of my newspaper friends, and spot Alisha.
“I’ve got a better person, someone who may be slightly more skilled than him. Let’s try to get Alisha over here,” I say to Sarah.
She agrees and we manage to get Alisha over. Taking the pictures for Gina, Sarah, and Tom had been enjoyable, being in them is ten times better. We laugh, make silly faces, and do ridiculous poses together. Eventually Alisha is even laughing with us and our foolishness. By the time we’re done its already quarter past eight, making us late for first period. But I find it to be a perfect start to my senior year.
I look to the clock and note there are only five more minutes left of class. Five goddamn minutes and I’ll be free to leave for the rest of the day. My AP Biology teacher Mrs. Sanok continues to drone on about the rigorousness of the class and expectations she has for every student. Huh good luck keeping those expectations for the rest of the year, senioritis will be hitting your students very hard, I think to myself. Luckily just as the minute hand hits the three, she wraps up her small speech and wishes a good day. We all smile back at her and scurry out of the classroom, excited to spend time with our friends.
As I walk over to my locker, I find myself talking to Kaleigh, a classmate of mine, about college apps.
“So Priya did you start writing any essays? I’m applying to a bunch of med programs so I’ve finished about half of mine but there’s still a lot left, makes me a little stressed,” she speaks animatedly.
I give a strained smile. I love Kaleigh as she’s very helpful with projects and schoolwork and genuinely wants the best for others, but she herself makes me a little bit stressed.
“I wrote my general common app essay, but gotta work on a lot of supplementals. I’m sure you’ll be fine though, you always know how to time manage so well,” I assure her.
She nods bad happily and goes on to ask me about my summer. Quite honestly, it wasn’t eventful as I spent it shadowing doctors, prepping for the ACT, or hanging out with some friends around town. I did also visit India for family, so I decide to tell her some stories about my time there as we both walk towards our lockers. Once I reach my locker, I find Alisha and her friends are situated around there. So while I wait for Sarah, Gina, and Tom, we all talk to each other about our first days and any crazy teachers we have. I find that there is a consensus of senior year appearing to have a lower workload, whether that is true is something we will have to find out.
When Sarah and the others arrive, they also join in on the current conversation for a couple minutes. Soon enough, Gina states we need to get going and we say our goodbyes and head on over to the parking lot.
“Wait hold up I need to drop some of these textbooks off at my locker,” Tom states.
“Okay we’ll stop there, but make it quick I’m seriously hungry right now,” Gina says.
Tom quickly puts his stuff away in his locker, and as I stand there and listen to Gina and Sarah fight over where we should go to eat.
“Panera!” Sarah yells.
“Nope, Popeyes!” Gina argues.
“C’mon Panera and is good AND healthy. Popeyes is just good.”
“JUST GOOD?! It’s literally amazing honey I don’t know what you’re saying.
“Priya, what do you think?”
“Ummm, either works?” I state. Honestly, I was craving Taco Bell, but I had a strong feeling neither person would agree to that.
As they continue arguing, I decide to go to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle. I wait behind a tall, blonde haired boy who I immediately recognize as Alex. David walks up to him signaling they are all heading out, and in that moment, Alex turns around and makes eye contact with me again.
This time my heart stops and my breath catches in my throat. There is this electric energy in the air that reminds me of a night a couple months ago. Junior Prom.
Junior Prom was an amazing night. I danced my heart out and enjoyed every single second. The energy and vibes all my friends were giving out that night was unmatched. Because most of my friends were dateless (other than Tom and Sarah who went together but aren’t together?), it ended up being one amazing girl’s night. Nights that are ones I am glad to be in front of the camera, rather than behind it, living out the memories rather than watching them.
But it was also the last night spent with my previous friend group, before we all split up and ended up like this. Which is one of the reasons why I find that night to be bittersweet. One of the reasons why.
There is a memory I have of that night that makes my stomach turn and heart stop in a way I cannot thoroughly explain. It was a moment that felt straight out of a movie, in which the girl is so engrossed in doing her thing and she looks up and makes eye contact with that guy. I can count the amount of times it’s happened to me on one hand.
1.At a bonfire my freshman year when I was looking into the fire (watching my marshmallow roast), while I threw my head back in laughter at a joke. I look up to see who made the joke and find myself intently staring into his eyes. That indescribable feeling came over me again. I used to think that’s when I fell in love with Connor, now I know I was terribly wrong.
2.My sophomore year I was messing around with my Alia in the lower cafeteria trying to play a prank our friend Sandra. In the process of fooling around, we were laughing around a lot and I noticed the group of guys nearby giving us looks, so Alia and I decided to move outside to the lockers. As we exited, I looked back to the guys and made eye contact with him. My breathe was caught in my throat and I could not take my eyes off of him. I was feeling it again after so long. I thought Peter could help me forget, but I wrong I was again.
Then came the third and final time I can remember. In the midst of, dancing and laughing my ass off with my friends, I looked up. All the way across the room, my eyes connected with his. Alex. Neither of us dared to look away from each other as we danced so far apart, yet still so seemingly close to each other. It was an intimate and intense feeling shared that was broken when a group of people obscured our vision from each other. Still, throughout the night there were moments when I found myself meeting his eyes, wondering what this was.
Nothing happened though. When the night came to the end, each of us respectively went off to our own after parties. But the Monday that followed that weekend, I had strange encounter with him.
His friends never spent their lunches in lower cafeteria. Never. Yet I remember sitting my locker that day discussing with Sarah where we should eat our lunch. That is when he passed by with his friend Will. I could feel him looking at me and listening, so I loudly suggested the lower cafeteria. Sarah agreed and when I looked up to see if he was still there, he was gone. So, Sarah and I gathered our items and went off to eat. Only to find that there were no more seats available in the lower cafeteria.
It dumb to even think he would eat there, dumb to think he even heard to me or cared. Nevertheless, I was upset when we had to eat in the courtyard. It was beautiful weather, but in the back of my mind I was hoping he would appear out of nowhere and confront me about the night we “shared” three days ago. But, as we wrapped up lunch and walked to our next class, we passed the lower cafeteria. While walking, I peered into the glass window of the door, trying to look for his messy blonde hair. To say I was surprised when I spotted Alex and Will was an understatement. I was overwhelmed with so many feelings I did not know how to feel. The moment was short, but it meant something to me. Clearly not much to him, as I later found out he was hooking up with Elizabeth and had been since the night of Junior Prom.
It’s still there. The feeling is present right now, and I need to know if he can feel it. I need to know I’m not crazy, I need to know that this moment is real.
His eyes are searching my own as if they are also wondering those same things, asking me if I want him as bad as he wants me. But the moment is broken.
“Yo Alex c’mon we’re gonna be so late! Most people already left for Elizabeth’s house!” David exclaims from the other side of the hall.
Alex quickly turns away from me and starts walking towards David.
“I’m coming dude, I was just trying to close my water bottle you know how fucking annoying the lids can be,” he yells back.
Yes, so fucking annoying. Just like you and your stupid mind games. Well, I don’t know if they are mind games but let’s pretend, they are for my sake. God I am hopeless.
I step to the water fountain and fill my bottle wondering what just happened. Part of me is tempted to look at him walk away from me to see if he’ll look back, but the other half knows it’s pointless. So I don’t. The last thing I need is to be more delusional than I already am.
“Priya, what the hell we’ve been wondering why it was taking so long to fill a damn water bottle!” I hear Gina exclaim behind me.
I turn around with a filled water bottle and sheepishly smile.
“Sorry, there was line so took a little longer than expected,” I apologize.
Gina laughs and responds, “Of course there was, school can afford to buy fancy microscopes and shit but can’t even keep more than one working water fountain.”
I laugh and agree with her extreme exaggeration. There is usually more than one, but for the most part the many of the water fountains are broken.
“So did you decide on the place to eat?” I ask while walking with to Sarah and Greg.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to Panera. Sarah and Tom ganged up on me, you know how they are about being all ‘healthy’. Maybe next time don’t be neutral!” she says to me.
“Hey next time I promise you I’ll side with you. Honestly speaking I was craving Taco Bell and I cannot have chicken today. So, I thought it would be best if I stayed neutral so you’d have a chance gal.”
“Priya! Totally too nice and super unnecessary. I appreciate that a lot, but if you can’t have meat today there’s literally no reason to go to Popeyes. Panera makes hundred times more sense. Sometimes you’re too thoughtful.”
“Well, what can I say sometimes it gets the best of me gal.”
She simply smiles with me in agreeance as we reach Sarah and Tom. We all head out to the parking lot, ranting to one another about the people in our classes. Gina tells us about the annoying Russian girl who never stops screaming “I love Russia” after every sentence the history teacher says. Tom rants about how his macroeconomics teacher being a hardass. And Sarah goes on, and on about how she always gets stuck partnered with shady people. I pitch in about my statistics teacher who puts me to sleep every time she speaks.
Each one of us already has so many stories and things to tell each other, and it’s only the first day of school. It makes me think of how many more memories we will make, and what the future holds for us. A whole year lies of ahead of us, and this is just the start. The start of new beginnings, hopefully with old and new friends.
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