A bittersweet goodbye to NT

A bittersweet goodbye to NT

Dear New Trier,

You and I have always had a complicated relationship. Every day from when I was fourteen, you’ve watched me speed-walk across your lawn at 8:16 in the mornings and trek back across that lawn at twilight, exhausted after a long night of newspaper or carrying some kind of sports gear.

You’ve seen me at my highs and absolute lows, from hysterically laughing in the cafeteria to the occasional math-induced cry in your bathroom stalls.

During KW, I pretended not to have my entire outfit on under the atrocious green top and sweatpants and resentfully ran laps, thinking about all the things I would do once I got out of high school.

I always thought it would be easy to leave you, New Trier. At first, it was. In the early days of quarantine, I reveled in the fact that I no longer had to bake under fluorescent lighting or struggle against the surge of humanity going up the main stairwell after lunch. It still didn’t hit me emotionally even when Governor Pritzker announced we wouldn’t be returning. Writing this letter though has forced me to reflect on what a difficult goodbye this is.

I thought you were the place I hated the most but in reality, you were just trying to expose the most uncomfortable truths about myself and the world to me, and for that I thank you. You taught me how to truly think for myself, to question and be brave, that if you put aside judgment you can find yourself with unlikely people and in unlikely places.

I learned that good and bad must coexist, and I discovered how it felt to grieve and to love. I have felt humbled countless times in that building. New Trier has brought people into my life that taught me what it means to be a decent human being. 

While I probably will never miss pep rallies, the most important parts of high school are the small moments, the interactions you don’t consider until they’re behind you. Driving to school with my best friend, softball practices, the chaos of the newsroom.

Most of all though, New Trier, you have taught me that how you choose to react during times of uncertainty defines what kind of person you are. This lesson has never been more essential to bear in mind than during the challenges of this pandemic.

This is not the goodbye we all wanted, but maybe it’s the one we needed? I don’t think I would have reflected half as much about my high school experience if I had the classic graduation experience. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve realized  I’ve been childish and jaded about high school. While parts of it might have been a hot mess, it’s made me the person I am today and I shouldn’t have taken it for granted.

I hope we can leave off as friends, New Trier because, in a weird way, I love you.