Remember This

by Erica.

My family is a picture-taking family, with no party complete without at least two aunts wandering around with a DSLR camera, making tables of relatives bunch together with pained smiles and half-eaten plates in front of them. When my cousins and I would whine and complain when my mother ambushed us with a camera, she’d chide us, asking “don’t you want to remember this?”

Perhaps she was right. Flipping through old photos became a favorite family past time, and the importance of taking pictures became something of familiarity as I grew up. Currently, there are thirty thousand pictures on my phone’s camera roll, as well as four hundred video clips from this summer alone.

The imperfection of photography in capturing the entirety of the moment has led to the manifestation other methods of documentation as well, from vigorously keeping journals to writing down things people have said and things I’ve thought in the Notes app on my phone. Perhaps, I thought, one way to counteract the shortcomings of a single media is by combining a myriad. So I began writing different things in different ways, taking pictures but also videos, keeping letters but also restaurant receipts.

And with that, my overarching goal has become to remember. I want to remember this past summer, in the weekend that I saw one of my best friends for the first time in half a decade, and in the ten weeks that I lived in the same building with Allison, on the same college campus, when we had lived 2779 miles and 101 miles away in the past. I want to remember it in the night I stayed up till 7am, wandering around campus alone, struggling to mitigate the flare up of the stresses that had been racking my brain for the past several months. I want to remember how happy I was, and to be continually striving for that. I want to remember how overwhelmed I felt, and to be reassured that moments like those do pass.

This all has resulted in a haphazard collection of words and images and ticket stubs with no immediate value to anyone who may stumble upon it. But put together, the jagged edges of each memento create a mosaic of my thought, goals, and emotions that in its entirety form a narrative of this summer, of freshman year, of growing up, and of everything that these nearly two decades has brought about.

With another year of college beginning, with another goodbye to home and flight back to the place where I am building a new stage of my life, I am continually searching to perfect the duality of fully taking in the current moment while taking enough out to remember the moment forever.


A Turn Around the Sun

Allison here, your local Texan.

A year ago, Erica and I somehow convinced each other into making a blog. She has a long history of blogging, but her past websites have fallen abandoned after posting became infrequent and the initial desire to fling one’s thoughts into the void of the internet passed. Personally, I’ve always wanted to blog; the idea of maintaining a website feels reminiscent of coffee shops, yoga, and keeping my life neatly scheduled in a Moleskin journal. Erica had the experience blogging, I had the whimsical desire, and so, three hundred and sixty five days ago, Erica and I made this blog, amidst college applications and senior year.

But my final year of high school passed in a busy whirlwind of friends, a trip to Europe, and too much reading, and my summer days blended into a watercolor of vibrant memories. Without much warning, the end of August handed me a plane ticket to Waco, Texas, and I moved into a dorm room in a city I barely knew.

And so this is it then. This is college. Years of test taking, tears, transcripts, hoping, and planning has led me here, to this place. I sit in the science building of a university some 2,000 miles from my parents, surrounded by students already overwhelmed by their organic chemistry homework even though we’re only three weeks into the semester. Everything about the atmosphere feels academic. It emanates from the neo-gothic columns stretching down my field of view, dominating the landscape outside the glass walls I sit before. It seeps from the quiet whisper of keyboards, the intermittent low whirring of printers. The professors know more about their areas of expertise than I ever will. The students lug around textbooks filled with more information than they can hope to learn before their next exam. Libraries are filled with stained glass, old manuscripts, and scientific journals. High school never felt like this, even at my most intensive and studious.

I am at home. I wonder if I have ever felt so perfectly suited to exist in a space as this one. The word boundless comes to mind when I consider my future. It floats up before me, like a tangible thing. I play with the idea, I let myself become a scientist, a novelist, a professor, all in a fragment of a day. I change my major each conversation I have with another student; I’m studying biochemistry over breakfast but by noon I am reading Homer and Sophocles. I can learn these things, all of them; I can become these things, any of them. My future feels infinite and I suddenly have no desire to capture it. For at least a little while, I can let it run free, bounding before me.

So with this blog, and with Erica one hundred and one miles south of me, with my books and my calculator, and a mountain of assignments, I begin college. I begin anew.




Leaving California (not the song by Maroon 5)

Erica, who somehow surpassed Allison in being the worst at posting on this blog on time.

I’ve never moved before.

Granted, our house has gone through two remodels and I’ve switched rooms once, but those were always minor fluctuations in my ever constant living situation. For the past nearly eighteen years, I’ve stayed put in this same house, on the same street, in front of the same tree, surrounded by the same neighbors.

My life has been embedded in every piece of this house and of this city. My childhood was filled with biking up and down the mildly-sloped streets, walking to 7-Eleven, and playing badminton in our backyard. The Starbucks down the street is my Starbucks and the church up the block is my church, both at which I have fond, fond memories.

Everything has just always been here.

As a homeschooled kid with hardly any extracurricular activities, I never left this bubble. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept in my room, working on math lessons at my sturdy Ikea desk and occasionally going outside to play. Sometimes, when I was feeling adventurous, I even biked to Starbucks. But this one-mile-radius bubble locked me in tight.

Then time moved on, I grew up, and licenses and jobs and karate happened. My room was transformed from being lived in to only being slept in, and my shoes got a lot more use. My time at home has decreased particularly drastically as of late, bookended by time on sixteen different flights and in eight different states and on who-knows-how-many highways. I’ve spent over three different weeks in three different states with Allison in the past four months, road tripped with a friend, and spent a week with other friends, all in all spending my last moments before college flying, walking, driving, and scootering my way across the city, state, and country.

But no matter how many different hotels, dorm rooms, and houses I’ve woken up in, despite the number of shower handles that I’ve struggled to decipher (home is where you can shower without accidentally immersing yourself in depths of the Arctic or the flames of the eternally damned), and no matter how many friends’ houses I’ve crashed at, I always end up at home.

I always end up at home, where gum wrappers and loose change are strewn against my bookshelf and where I definitely haven’t reached the recommended quota of “times you should wash your bedding per month”. At home, where I keep my gym bag next to my bed, as an attempt to convince myself that I am actually in shape. And at home, where I am now attempting to confine my life’s collection of treasures in cardboard prisons.

I have the same random assortment of pictures and posters and postcards and polaroids tacked to the wall beside my bed that I’ve had since sophomore year—it’s the same this-was-intended-to-be-artsy-but-just-looks-messy aesthetic that I so effortlessly flaunt. I have college brochures from the universities I had my heart set on attending. I didn’t go to any of them. I have photo booth pictures of friends from 2010. I haven’t talked to them since. I have the very first letter Allison sent me. I’ve received wilder things from her since then.

But taking any of these things down feels like a betrayal to my entire livelihood; packing my fondest memories in a box that I will most likely not find until my early thirties feels like hiding away every last remnant of the things that once made me the happiest. Those colleges. Those friends. Allison.

My roommate and I are trying to decide on how to decorate our room, and none of my eclectic memorabilia will ever make the cut. I know for the sake of our dorm aesthetic I can’t bring any of these wall hangings with me, but there’s something about that molecular snowman that I drew for my organic chemistry class’ Christmas party two years ago that makes me want to defy all interior design standards.

But I’m moving out. I’m becoming an adult. It’s time for new beginnings and new room decorations. It’s time for making more memories and finding more happy things.

In exactly three weeks I will be in a new city that isn’t a stone’s throw away from Universal Studios and Disneyland and Hollywood and the beach. I will be in a new home where I have to wear flip flops when I shower and deal with living with human beings that aren’t related to me by blood. My new home will not be anywhere close to a spacious house in the heart of southern California but instead in an 80-year-old dormitory in Texas with no sinks in the individual rooms. Will I feel at home? Will I like it there? What will our room look like? How will life be? There are thirty-four million questions that race through my head at every given moment about everything happening. I can’t help but wonder what our lives will all look like in just a few short months, but only time will tell.

Until then: less than three weeks until I’m Texas-bound.


It’s Officially (Almost) Over

Allison, your local AAA member.

It’s (almost) the second semester of senior year which means my high school experience is (almost) over, and I’m (nearly) ready to cruise through the last few weeks of school. I’m (almost) about to go to college across the country. I’m (almost) sure what university I’ll be attending, and I’m (almost) ready to just pack my things and ship out now. I’m excited for new classes, new professors, and a new life. I’ll be living away from home, making different friends, and actually growing up. It’s something I’ve been preparing for since my freshman year and it’s suddenly (about to be) a reality. It seems like I’ve always had to get the best grades and perfectly balance my extracurriculars with academics to ensure the greatest transcript coupled with the best resume. It hasn’t been easy, but suddenly the pay-off is (about to be) worth it.

The pressure of college applications, college acceptances, and high school transcripts has been (almost) entirely lifted from my shoulders. This is the first time in nearly six years I haven’t felt the constant need to keep up my performance. I can let my grades slip and it (probably) won’t haunt me. I can miss a homework and I’ll (probably) wake up the next morning.

Every decision I flub doesn’t feel intrinsically connected to my future. Every mistake I make won’t have lasting repercussions in my academic career.

This has given me incredible freedom.

I spent the past few hours planning out the amazing things I’ll (hopefully) be doing between now and August. I’ll (probably) be going to Italy for a few weeks. Erica (might) be visiting New York for Spring Break. I’ll (most likely) attend Veritas’ End of the Year Gathering and meet all the amazing people who were in my classes this year and I’ll reconnect with everyone I met last year. I have senior prom, graduation, and my 18th birthday.

Seeing the next few months mapped out in terms of special events was cathartic. The calendar, devoid of homework assignments and project due dates, was a reminder that my entire life doesn’t need to be a stepping stone to the next best thing. I have the upcoming sixth months of my existence to spend with friends, making memories, learning more, and reading great books.

I’m eager to move on to college, to the next big plan, to the next resume-building transcript-perfecting activity, and I’m (almost) ready, I’m (nearly) ready, just not quite yet.


by Erica

I found some note on my phone that said “reminder: buy candles and a potted plant”. And then I got a little sad because here I am, on a Wednesday night, candleless and plantless because I failed to follow that whim.

Now before you tell me to stop moping and go buy them, it’s 10:30 pm and I don’t want to be the kind of person that goes to the store at 10:30 at night to buy cinnamon-spice-scented candles and succulents. I really don’t.

Honestly, there are some things I’ve done that were weird as h e c k and things I would have never put on my to-do list beforehand but nevertheless I didn’t necessarily regret them. Allison and I didn’t specifically plan to end up in a mausoleum on a fine August afternoon but there we were, in the basement of some cathedral, wandering around dead people like that was our only hobby.

I didn’t think I’d be up at 4am skyping with two of my best friends and some kid I hardly knew (sorry Levi) talking about life and whatever things you talk about that late at night (see post: Three AM). I didn’t think it’d go on for five hours and Levi would be the last one to go to bed, of all people.

I didn’t plan to spend my Sunday afternoon buying ingredients for and making deep fried Oreos, but that is exactly how I spent it. And let me tell you, those first couple Oreos were some of the best things I had ever tasted. But I also 100% regret eating 5 of them and should have stopped at 2.

I didn’t think that if I went with a couple of kids to lunch we’d pass by a pizza place that was coincidentally training new staff and I’d get an entire meal + drink + dessert for free (?!???!!). Now THAT is the kind of thing I have dreams about three nights in a row.

I didn’t think that some random kid I’d hardly ever talked to would interrupt my studying and suggest we go on adventure. And no I didn’t think I’d have a day filled with borderline trespassing and recurrent safety hazards and jumping through grates behind university libraries, but whoops, I did.

Sure, sometimes it is necessary to curb these weird moods and phases and ideas and decline those invitations to adventure so you can sit down and do homework or work or whatever you do. Sometimes, when you’re 500 pages behind in reading the biography of John Adams for homework (who? what? me?) you can’t just get up and go to the grocery store and buy some mozzarella to make mozzarella sticks, because sometimes your responsibilities need tending to. And so you just have to file that idea in the back of your mind/phone/computer/stone tablet and hope you rediscover it at a more opportune time.

Responsibilities are important. Sure. I love school. But I fully believe that once in a while everyone should take a moment to seize an opportunity that comes waltzing past. Act on an idea. Follow a whim. Accept an offer. Find out where it takes you, because the one of the most haunting, most frustrating questions–at least for me–is what if?

I can’t wait. I can’t wait to go to college—wherever that happens to be—and take weird classes and cool classes and classes that right now I’d laugh at the prospect of taking, and study abroad and learn all these cool things. I can’t wait to live in different places in the US, in the city and in the country and in the north and in the south and in cold places and hot places. I can’t wait to be bombarded with thousands of opportunities—some unexpected and weird and some intriguing at first glance. I can’t wait to eat some really good mac ‘n cheese and some really good sandwiches, and go to some really good bowling alleys, and read some really good presidential biographies (shout out to David McCullough’s biography of John Adams).

There’s just so much to do.

And in the midst of college applications and the unwavering pressure that comes along with thirty-three-hundred essays* and sixty-two interviews**, sometimes I forget that I have my entire life ahead of me. Seventeen years sounds like a whole lot of time because seventeen years has been my entire life. But more than seventeen years lies ahead*** and so do hundreds and thousands of opportunities and experiences I could never even dream of happening.

Overall sometimes the best moments and best friendships and best memories are the ones that are the most unexpected; the ones that just happened and the things that stemmed from opportunities you randomly decided to jump on as it passed. And sure, sometimes there are dead-end ideas and whims that are actual wastes of time, but you’ll never know until you find out. Sometimes I’m really glad moments didn’t turn out exactly the way I had planned it in my head, because they turned out to be so unexpectedly better. Maybe it’s because some of the best moments in life are unscripted.

**also an approximation