Senior year had been a bittersweet moment for me. While the last half of senior year was one of the darkest moments of my life, there were still good parts from it too. And while I was still needing to find myself, and while Preston and I's relationship didn't work out the way we planned it to, I was glad to say that my senior year ended on a high note.
Nothing could ever prepare you for this moment to come so fast. During your freshman year, they always tell you to cherish your moments in high school because they go by in a blink of an eye. One day, you're a freshman, and the next, your name is being called for you to get up on stage, and get your diploma.
I didn't believe it at first, but as I stood next to the stage, lined up with other seniors in our cap and gowns, waiting for my name to be called, I believed it.
Graduation. It was hard to believe that senior year went by so fast, that my years at high school were already over, and that I was closing this chapter of my life with the people I grew up with.
"Karla Adams," the teacher standing at the podium called out with their microphone. The girl in front of me stepped onto the stage, loud clapping echoing in my ears. Now, I was getting nervous. That was the one thing I hated about having my last name start with an A, it meant that I was one of the first to go up on stage. I could barely give myself a pep talk.
"You alright?" I blinked and glanced behind me at Daniel, who was looking at me with a raised brow.
"Yeah, just nervous," I laughed.
"You'll be fine," Daniel reassured, slight teasing in his tone as he followed with, "just don't trip on your way up the stage and you'll be fine."
"Gee, thanks," I scoffed at him. Daniel chuckled and patted me on the back.
"You'll do great Adrien!" I then heard Kourtney shout over to me a few people behind us, "just walk up there and strut your stuff!"
I rolled my eyes but laughed anyway.
"Adrien Aguilera," The teacher then called my name to the stage, to which Daniel patted my shoulder, both him and Kourtney cheering me on as I took a deep breath and stepped onto the stage. Cheering, clapping, and whistling reached my ears as I walked across the stage and over to Mr. Taylor, to which he shook my hand and flashed me a bright smile.
He congratulated me and handed me my diploma. The teacher then announced that I would also be receiving an award for the highest mark in my visual arts class, and Ms. Sawyer stepped forward to give me my reward. We smiled at each other, and she gave me a big hug before she handed the award over to me.
"I'm proud of you, Adrien," She said, "you'll do amazing in art school."
"Thanks, Ms. Sawyer," I said kindly. She smiled and gave me one last hug. I briefly glanced into the crowd, where people were cheering and clapping for me. I saw Mom sitting with Jackson somewhere in the crowd, as she blew into a tissue because she was crying. I saw my friends, voices loud and prominent, and when my eyes found Preston's in the crowd, our eyes locked for a few short seconds. He was smiling, and then I was smiling, before I walked off the stage with my diploma and award.
"Daniel Blake," The teacher called out, and the cheering started up again as Daniel walked across the stage, shaking hands with the principal as he received his diploma. I cheered as well, and I swore I heard Asher shouting somewhere in the audience. When Daniel walked back off the stage, I gave him a high-five, and we headed back to our seats together.
I cheered when it was Kourtney's turn to receive her diploma, clapping until my hands were hurting. I cheered when Joseph crossed the stage, as well as Kade.
"Preston King," The teacher called out, and I cheered at the top of my lungs, hands cupped around my mouth as Preston waltzed onto the stage, everyone else in the audience cheering and clapping loudly.
Preston crossed the stage and shook heads with Mr. Taylor who gave him his diploma. He also received an award from his music class, handed to him by Mr. Anderson. Then, Preston gave a dramatic bow to the audience, nearly dropping his cap, and blew kisses to the audience before he walked off stage. I couldn't help but laugh.
Phoebe and Asher were towards the end, but I cheered for them just as loudly, especially Asher. He had also had a rough senior year, much like I had, and so watching him walk across the stage, brought a wide smile to my face. Not only had he accomplished graduation, but a couple of weeks earlier, he had given birth to his son, Eden, which was also a major accomplishment on its own.
The entire ceremony was bittersweet with watching all my friends receive their diplomas. By the end of it, when we were told to stand up from our seats, the principal congratulated all of us, and then, the entire senior class cheered, and tossed their red caps in the air.
By the time the ceremony was over, Daniel, Kourtney, and I met up with Preston and the rest of our friends and families, as we headed outside for pictures. In the middle of taking pictures, Daniel's grandmother had arrived at the recreation center where our commencement ceremony had taken place, and with her, she brought Asher and Daniel's son Eden, so we all got to meet him for the first time since Asher gave birth two weeks ago.
Overall, the ceremony had been great. I would miss high school and the memories I made with it, even if it had been not so great towards the end. I was ready to move on from it, ready to move past the hurt. Ready to start fresh, and to begin my life.
Later that night, after the ceremony, the eight of us went back to Preston's place for a bonfire. It was late at night, roughly around 10:30, the moon shining high in the dark sky with an explosion of stars around it. The crackling fire lit up Preston's back yard as we all sat around it, passing around the marshmallows and graham crackers.
I sat in my chair, knees pulled to my chest as I had a blanket wrapped around me, all the while I roasted a couple of marshmallows in the fire. Across from me, Phoebe and Joseph were challenging each other to see who could fit the most marshmallows into their mouth. Asher was cheering them on, while Daniel watched amusedly and snacked on the smore that he made. Kourtney and Kade were cuddled together on the grass in a blanket, all the while they chatted and laughed as Kade's marshmallow burned and fell into the fire pit.
Watching all of them brought a smile to my face, but at the same time, I couldn't help but be upset knowing we'd all be parting ways once university started.
"What are you thinking about?" Preston asked me, pulling me out of my thoughts. I looked over at him. He was sitting next to me on a chair, a bag of chips in his hands, his eyes gazing at me curiously. I flashed him a smile.
"Nothing really..." I said, releasing a small sigh, as I glanced back to the fire, "just...thinking about what comes next now that we've graduated. We've all been friends for so long and now we'll all be going separate ways to do our own thing."
"Yeah...it's kind of surreal to think about, isn't it?" Preston said, nodding his head slowly, "I'm definitely going to miss hanging out with everyone in the cafeteria during lunch every day. We've been a group pretty much all four years, and now, high school is over, and everyone will be doing their own thing."
I nodded in agreement. While I know we'll all still keep in touch with each other, and hang out, it won't be as often. We'll all be far away from each other at different schools and doing different things, starting new chapters in our lives. It was just weird to think about.
Preston and I won't be too far. Our universities are only 45 minutes apart from each other, but that didn't mean we would get to see each other as often as we do now. The thought kind of worried me, because Preston and I have always been around each other for over ten years, and so not getting to see him as often, I wondered what would happen to our friendship.
"What do you think...will happen with us?" I spoke up softly, turning so that I was facing Preston again. He tilted his head, "we'll be at different schools, doing different things. So what does this mean for us?"
"We'll make it work," Preston reassured. He reached over to me and took my hand, squeezing gently, "we may be farther apart than what we were used to, and we may be going off to do different things, but we will make it work. We will find time for each other. I will make time for you because you're my best friend and that will never change."
I nodded my head slowly, looking down at our hands, and squeezed his in return.
"Promise me, that no matter what, we'll always be here for each other," I told him. Preston smiled softly at me.
"I promise, Adrien," Preston said, leaning closer, "and do you know why I promise? Because you're my best friend, and I love you. You're the most important person in my life and that's not going to change."
I smiled fondly at that, biting my lower lip, "I love you too, Preston."
"I'm glad," Preston laughed, "now, why don't you pass me the marshmallows? I'm craving a smore."
I laughed and shook my head. I picked up the bag of marshmallows and handed it to him, to which he thanked me with a goofy grin on his face. I watched him put a couple of marshmallows onto his roasting stick and stuck it into the fire.
I didn't know what the future had in store for me. Life came with many ups and downs, and it was nearly impossible to predict what could happen because your life can change drastically in a very short amount of time. You can never prepare for it, and as scary as it sounded, we just had to embrace it.
And while I didn't know what my future held, what I did know was that Preston was here, right now, with me. My friends were here, and my mom was here. And that's all I needed right now.