Four Years Gone

You didn't seriously think I'd go without a bang?

By Alexander Pralea, Editor-in-chief

In May, within three short weeks, my senior year will finally be over. No more AP exams (hallelujah), no more biology reading guide questions, no more Edgar Allen Poe stories (I don’t mean to offend my English peeps), and no more vain attempts to hide my lack of a top button (Mr. Guinan always snipes me because I am a terrible aspiring criminal apparently).

It feels weird.

On one hand, the coronavirus lockdown has given me (or better yet, thrust on me) the opportunity to reflect on my past four years at Xavier, to ask those big questions that people inevitably shy away from. What are the moments that I have truly cherished, which will be with me forever?

Some of them are obvious: Mr. Traceski’s meticulous reminders about the contributions of our savior Euclid (you thought I was going to say Jesus?) in geometry class that have become a meme at this point; Mr. Popielaski’s stories’ about being held at gunpoint by a little kid and lobster-fishing (they are probably spiced up with a little fiction, but who cares? It is Mr. P, after all); Mrs. Castro’s constant jokes about her green-card marriage and “focusing” (they never get old); Mr. A. King’s AP World History review sessions, as characterized by Domino’s pizzas; Mrs. Charpentier’s constant (yet fruitless) promises every meeting to explain how to use the tree-measuring stick thingamajig; bus trips for tennis games that I inevitably sat out of (it was better off that way, trust me) yet that thankfully got me out of in-class English essays; Mr. Flower’s grabbing Brad’s computer and throwing it in the trash; Brother Ryan’s threatening to “segregate” me in the back of the classroom (at the time, maybe not so funny, but now it is hilarious); and so many more.

I know that as I progress to college these memories will be with me forever, which is both a source of reassurance and sadness. I am so incredibly excited for the new experiences I will dip my toes in at college, but I feel a sense of loss as well. Many of the relationships I took so long to nurture and cultivate will dry out of existence as my friends and I watch our life paths diverge, as we move away across the nation. For the first semester, we might text each other a couple of times a month, but by the next year our communications will fizzle out to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” as we lose the sense of community we generated during high school. There will be no more eccentric teachers we have in common, no more pointless meetings we have to go to (let’s accept it, nothing new comes out of meetings), and no more attempts to lengthen out mass to miss an English test. Soon, we will be like our parents, Facebook friends (I know, I am disgusted by my future self, an active user of Facebook) who feel obligated to give the customary like every couple of months. Maybe we will come to one another’s weddings, too. But maybe, and more likely, we won’t. Such is the life cycle of the modern human, from a hater of Facebook to its biggest consumer.

Part of growing, I guess, is accepting this harsh reality in a carpe-diem-esque way. We have to accept that many of our interactions will be relegated to 10, 20, 30, 40-year reunions. Nothing we can do to change this fact. Better to just live it up and enjoy what precious little moments we take part in. But it doesn’t make it easier.

You see, I’ve realized, that life often doesn’t give us the privilege of a sense of closure. As high schoolers, we had been hoping for this with graduation, with the set of rituals that bookend our entrance into the workforce or college. But that’s not out life works. We don’t just mourn and rejoice and move on as new people as if nothing happened; we still carry our burdens and joys throughout every stage of life. Life’s moments often float by like driftwood, much like our senior year at this point, into oblivion; our senior year traditions are a farce that gives us the pretense of completion, culmination, of beginning and end.

So maybe in all the unresolved darkness, that is our consolation: the ability to reflect and learn more about ourselves.