It was getting closer and closer to the day I had dreaded all year. Graduation was only a week away. There was way too much to do for my liking. Finals were all week. Along with having to study every night, we all had to prepare for the last day we would officially step foot in high school. No longer would we see the familiar faces we have grown to love or hate. Soon we would begin to start becoming accustomed to new faces and experiences. I was a complete and utter mess. The thought of starting over in a “new world” was making my head spin. Change is a big deal. I always feared it. I had dealt with little changes like moving and switching schools but big changes I never experienced. Graduation was definitely a big one.
“Sophie!” I heard my mom yell.
I snapped out of my trance and walked over to her. We were at the mall. She insisted that we go shopping to find a new outfit for the “big” day especially since there was a big party afterwards. I protested but somehow she convinced me to participate in the task. Actually it was more of a guilt trip. She told me that since I did not participate in the prom fiasco that I had to at least go all out for graduation. I had never been big on going all out for anything.
“What do you think of this one?” My mom picked up a bright pink strapless dress.
“Mom, I may have been born in the eighties but that doesn’t mean I want to go back to that time. Bright colors are not my thing.” I took the dress from her and looked it up and down. “Do you want me to look like an Easter egg?” I asked her with a laugh.
“Okay, maybe the color is not quite….appropriate.” She commented as she hung it back on the rack.
“Thank you.” I said relieved that she did not ask me to try that thing on.
“Well, see if you find anything you like. This isn’t my graduation, it’s yours. So get to it missy.” She nudged me to hurry me along.
I rolled my eyes slightly but obeyed.
I started looking around myself. I figured it would not be so bad to go all out for the occasion. You only graduate once form high school. Since it was a one time deal, it could not hurt.
As I looked around I tried to be reasonable. I was a simple girl. All the dresses I saw were far from simple. They were either brightly colored or had some sort of interesting shape to them. This was going to take a while.
“Boo!” I jumped out of my skin when I heard the voice behind me. I turned with a shocked look in my eyes, holding my heart dramatically. I smacked JD in his shoulder as hard as I could.
“You scared the crap out of me!”
He laughed. “Oops. Sorry.” He said sheepishly.
I just glared at him.
“Watcha doing?” He asked like a child.
“I’m looking for a dress.” I said mocking his same tone.
“Want some help?” He smiled.
“Sure. I could use all the help I can get.” I replied honestly. “What are you doing here anyway mister?”
“I needed to find something for graduation.”
“Oh, so why are you helping me? Shouldn’t you be looking for yourself?” I looked at him curiously.
“Oh, I’m done. I already found something. I put it in the car and came back to mingle. I saw you with that dreadfully confused look on your face so I figured you needed help.” JD explained.
Of course he was done. He looks good in anything.
“OK.” I said simply.
“What about this one?” JD asked as he showed me a dress he found. It was a dark sort of navy blue color. It has a halter top and had a perfect flow at the bottom. I eyed it for a moment.
“Hey, JD! What brings you here?” My mom walked up to us with numerous amounts of dresses in her arms.
“Helping.” He smiled at her.
“Great! Well, here. I thought you could try these on Sophie.” She happily started handing me the pile.
JD laughed at the sight. I was groaning and felt a headache coming on shortly. My mom smiled at me with pleading eyes. I grabbed them all from her and made my way to the dressing room. She gave me a reassuring squeeze before I took off.
“Wait!” JD stopped me and put the dress he picked on top of the pile.
I sighed and went on my way.
I don’t know how many dresses I tried but luckily I did get to take one home. It was the one JD picked out. It looked the best on me. He always had good taste in practically everything. So I was finally set, at least on the outside, for upcoming graduation.
The week went by in a blur. The day had come too quickly. One minute I’m taking a final and the next it’s all over and graduation day was here. I was a complete mess once again. When I woke up I looked like hell and I almost felt like it too. Everyone in my house was excited except for me. My Grandma cooked me a nice breakfast to start the day. My mom ironed my dress and made sure everything for my wardrobe was perfect and ready to go. My dress was hanging on my closet door and my cap and gown were lying neatly on my bed after I finished my breakfast. I also got a call from JD excitedly mentioning that we were graduating like I didn’t know. I hung up on him.
My mom made an appointment for my hair, makeup, manicure, and pedicure. She also made sure I wore my contacts that I rarely used instead of my glasses. I went to my said appointments and let everyone do their jobs to try to make me beautiful. It was a stretch but I let them try anyway.
After about two hours of getting “beauty enhancement” I went back home and slipped on my dress. I never bothered to look in the mirror the whole afternoon. When I was ready, I walked downstairs to see a small crowd of people dressed up and surrounding the living room. JD had come by with his mom, dad, and brother. My mom and grandma were also in the bunch chatting them all up. I took a deep breath when I got to the bottom of the stairs.
The first person to notice I was there was JD. He looked over to me and I couldn’t read his face. It looked like his jaw dropped slightly and his breath caught in his throat. I had never seen that look on his face before so I couldn’t help but giggle a little at the sight. He took a short breath and swallowed as he walked over to me. His eyes seemed different.
“You look beautiful Sophie.” he stated. I didn’t know what to say. Was he joking? It didn’t sound like he was joking. His face looked really serious about it.
I couldn’t help but blush, “Um, thanks.” I said shyly. “You look very handsome yourself Jayden.” I very rarely called him by his first name but at that moment it seemed more appropriate.
“Thanks.” He also slightly blushed.
That was a side of him I had never seen before. Usually he would joke around a lot. He also never blushed. At that moment he was so serious and looked genuinely flustered by my compliment. As we looked into each others eyes I heard a cluster of amazed sighs coming from the living room. I turned and everyone was looking at me like I was on fire or something.
“You look gorgeous!”
“You’re so pretty Sophie.”
It was all said at once that I had no idea who said what. The only one I recognized was JD’s brother asking me to marry him as he jumped down on one knee in front of me. I laughed and just thanked everyone.
“Alright calm your hormones bro.” I heard JD say as he grabbed his brother away from me. Once he got his brother under control he turned to look at me and shrugged his shoulders.
“I told you, you looked good. You got my bro in a hot sweat.” He laughed.
We both looked over at Sam quickly and he was just staring at me like I was a piece of meat.
“Wow,” I whispered to JD.
He sighed with a smile and took my hand leading me to the nearest hallway. He knew in my mind I was wondering why people were saying all those things. He knew I thought of myself a lot differently than everyone else did. I guess he wanted me to see what all the fuss was about. He let go of my hand and turned me to the full length mirror on the wall. I was shocked at what I saw. I don’t say it much but I really did look quite pretty at that moment. I barely thought it was me in that mirror.
The dress fit me perfectly. It was like it was made just for me. The navy blue complimented my skin and dark brown hair. It flowed down to slightly below my knees. It almost looked like ocean waves falling around my legs. It was beautiful. My hair was no longer simply straight. It was wavy with slight curls that fell around the contours of my face. Then I looked at my face in amazement. I could barley recognize my complexion. I had to touch my cheek to make sure all of this was real. My child like look was gone and I suddenly realized I had become a beautiful young woman. The blush on my cheeks was a subtle pink that gave life to my usually pale face. My dark brown eyes were encased in a black lining and smoky shadow. The smoky eyes matched my dark features very well. My lips were just painted with a natural gloss to make them slightly shine. I couldn’t believe they made this ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. It was about time I looked like a real girl. I decided I might actually keep up the look after that.
I must have been standing there for a while. I felt JD tug at my hand.
“Come on princess, its time to get this show on the road. I know you probably just fell in love with yourself but that’s enough vanity for the day for you.” He finally made a joke.
I couldn’t help but laugh especially at the idea of me being vain.
“Come on beautiful.” He took my hand and walked me out the door. We let each others hands go to go to our separate vehicles. It was hard to let go even though it still wasn’t officially time to leave each other yet.
The car ride to the school felt longer than it really was. I realized at that moment even if I wasn’t ready for all this I had to be. This was really happening and I was about to embark on a greater journey ahead.
When we arrived at the school all of the seniors were gathered in the cafeteria. Their awaiting families made their way to the auditorium where the ceremony would be held. We all lined up around the room in alphabetical order. I was sad because I was alone in the line. JD was too far away. I wished that my friend was able to stand by me the whole time but it wasn’t possible.
As we started walking out to head to the auditorium, I grinned and bared it. We walked down the isles to our seats in the front. All of our parents were on their feet taking pictures of us excitedly. We took our seats as the ceremony began. Every once in a while, during the whole thing, JD and I glanced at each other. He would give me an encouraging smile or make a face to try and lift my spirits. It worked……half the time.
Finally after a half hour or so of speeches it was time for us to get our diplomas. We all stood to our feet and awaited the moment our names would be called. People in the audience would cheer for their family members and friends as the graduates walked on stage. I was kind of nervous because I really didn’t think I would get much of applause when it was my turn. Then I heard the principal call Jayden Daniels to the stage. I heard his family and pretty much everyone who knew him loud and clear cheering him on. I gave him a little cheer myself. When he got his diploma he waved to his family and then looked right over to me to give me a big smile and wink.
Just then I knew everything was going to be fine. I finally realized this was just a step forward to way bigger and better experiences ahead in life. By the time it was my turn to receive my diploma I was a lot more calm and collected. My name was called and I smiled a real smile as I walked up on that stage. Surprisingly I heard a lot of cheers from the crowd. I heard my family, JD’s family, and of course JD himself. He was probably the loudest. I even heard a few cheers from my classmates. I guess it was because on that day we were all a collective group of people with hopes and fears of moving toward adulthood. It was no longer a gloomy day for me but a happy one.
After diplomas were handed out and the final speech was made, we all finally got to throw our caps in the air and celebrate our great achievement. The crowd in the auditorium quickly moved out to the hallway. I met up with my family as quickly as I could. My mom was practically crying when she gave me a big hug. She almost made me cry. My gran cut in and congratulated me before my mom started to shed her happy tears.
“Sophie!” I heard very loudly behind me. I turned with a smile as JD pushed his way through the crowd toward me. When he finally reached his destination he practically slammed into me hugging me as tight as he could. He lifted me off the ground and spun me around.
“We are officially out of here,” he gloated as he put me down, “We graduated baby! Yea!” He high fived one of his basketball team buddies.
All the guys were hooting and hollering while all the girls shrieked and giggled. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces. It was a great picture to see.
The crowd finally died down after an hour. Everyone started heading to the graduation party. It was being held at a hall not too far from the school.
JD and I went with our families to the parking lot of the school before leaving.
“I’m so proud of you two.” JD’s mom stated proudly
“Are you two going to be okay to get to the party and back?” JD’s dad asked him.
“Yes dad. Stop worrying so much. The place is like five minutes away.” JD reassured him. His dad patted him on the back as he hugged him.
A million congratulations and hugs and kisses later we finally got in his car. We sat there for a minute. Out of nowhere we busted out laughing.
“Our families are crazy.” JD muffled through his giggles.
“Yes they are. But would you expect nothing less?” I asked.
He smiled brightly at the thought. Then we were off to the party.
We arrived at the place where the party was in the nick of time. We sat in the car for a few minutes before making our entrance.
“You ready for this girl?” JD asked.
I looked him in the eyes, smiled and said, “Sure”
He smiled back at me and got out of the car. He walked to my door like a gentleman to open it for me. It almost felt like we were on a date. I had to laugh at myself at that thought. He held out his hand to help me out of the car. When we got to the entrance of the place he gave my hand a quick squeeze and let it go as he motioned me through the door. I walked inside and was surprised at how beautiful everything looked. The decorations were amazing. It felt like a real celebration.
JD walked in right behind me, “Wow! This is awesome!” He said.
I laughed at his enthusiasm. He looked like a little kid in a candy store. It was cute. Everybody around us was dancing and socializing just having a good time. I was just observing the scene around me. I had my camera so I just took pictures the whole night. Every once in a while I would chat with people but I mostly took pictures to document our last night together as a whole. I always loved taking pictures. I loved capturing the essence of a simple gesture or beautiful scenery. Everything had a story to it. When I looked at photos I always wondered what the story was all about.
“Hey where’s my pic?” JD asked interrupting my thoughts.
“Smile.” I stated as I snapped his picture. “I have one word for you, cheesy.” I said to JD.
He laughed. “Yea yea, now both of us.” He said as he pulled me close so our faces were next to each other. So I put the camera in front of us as best I could, smiled, and snapped the picture.
As the party went on I sat back and reminisced about the past four years. As much as I wasn’t exactly popular over those years I still knew who everybody was in my graduating class. I knew what was going on in everyone’s personal life and stuff. In high school things got around fast. I looked around and noticed some couples that were high school sweethearts smiling and laughing together. I saw Katie Miller and Kevin Scott. They were the couple in school that had an on and off relationship. It was hard to figure out when they were or not. They broke up probably as many times as people change their socks. Then there was Carol Mitchell and Jason Samuels. They had been inseparable for four years. I also noticed all the different cliques still hanging out in there own groups. The popular people were in one corner and the band geeks in another. I never understood why everyone in high school was categorized by their cliques. We’re all just people. We’re not as different as we all think. I guess that’s just high school for you. Still everyone at the party was all happy and having fun. The past didn’t matter anymore. The future was on its way.
We all partied until I don’t know what time in the morning. I was exhausted. As I was practically falling asleep at the table I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Come on princess, time to bounce.” JD said tiredly.
We said our goodbyes to our classmates and we were on our way home.
“You have fun?” JD asked.
“Yea, it was cool,” I answered.
“Tired?” He asked.
“Oh, yea.” I giggled tiredly.
We drove the rest of the way in silence.
A few minutes later I was home and JD and I said our goodbyes. I was ready to hit my bed. As I got ready for bed I thought about the day’s events. As much as I was unsure in the beginning, it felt good afterwards. It was time to start a new chapter in life. As I thought more, something else hit me. Only two months of summer and then it was really time to say goodbye. Goodbye to my family and goodbye to my best friend. JD and I would be off to college in different states. Through all the chaos I decided to go to an art school in Pittsburgh to major in photography. JD was going to a college in Boston to major in business. It was going to be a long four years without him. I miss him already just thinking about it. As I went to sleep that night that’s all I thought about. Who knew what the future would bring.
JD and I made the most of our summer together. Still, it flew by way too fast. Before we knew it there was only a week before college started. I was finishing up packing.
“I never understood why girls have so many shoes.” JD commented.
He came over to help me pack. He finished his own packing the other day. He’s always been more prepared and on time than I am. I’m more of the procrastinator.
We were sitting on my bedroom floor packing my clothes.
“A girl needs options.” I told him.
“Shut up.” I laughed.
“So, how much are you going to miss me?” He asked with a sly grin. He was trying to be funny but as soon as he said that I grew serious.
“You have no idea.” I said with sadness in my eyes.
His grin faded. “Hey, everything’s going to be fine. We’ll see each other again before you know it.” He reassured me as he gave me a hug.
“It’s not going to be the same anymore. I’m use to you being around practically all the time and now you’re not going to be around at all.” I felt my eyes grow teary at the thought.
“I know it’s not going to be easy. I’m going to miss you like nobody’s business. I also know we’ll both survive through our time apart. No matter what you’ll always be my number one girl and I’ll think about you every day. I love you man. As all the girlies usually say, we’re best friends forever.” He confessed.
“You know JD,” I started, “you always know exactly what to say.” I smiled.
A week later the time came for JD and me to embark on a new life without each other. It was an emotional time. JD and his family all stopped by my house to say their goodbyes.
“I can’t believe my baby is going off to college on her own.” My mom said with tears welling up in her eyes.
“I’m so proud of you.” Gran spoke up. I was going to miss them. The good part though was that I wasn’t going to be too far from them, that I couldn’t visit once in a while.
“I love you mom and don’t worry I’ll be back on Christmas break.” I told her. I gave her a big hug and kiss. Then I moved to my grandma.
“Love you Grandma.” I said, “See you soon.” I gave her a big hug and kiss also.
JD and his family came to join us.
“Good luck with everything Sophie.” JD’s mom said as she hugged me.
“Yea, we’ll see you soon.” JD’s dad said as he also hugged me. Then came Sam.
“I’ll miss you baby. I’ll wait for you forever.” He emphasized.
I laughed and gave him a big hug and sloppy kiss on his cheek. He just smiled that sly little grin.
“I’m gonna miss ya kid.” I said.
As I was saying goodbye to JD’s family I heard him saying his goodbyes to mine. When he was done he came up to me and our families gave us a minute alone.
“So,” JD started.
“So,’ I repeated.
We looked each other in the eyes. No talking was necessary so we just caught each other in a sweet embrace not knowing what to say. We held each other for a few minutes not wanting to let go.
“I’m gonna miss you JD.” I choked out through tears.
“I’m gonna miss you too.” He whispered in my ear.
“Love you.” I stated simply.
“Love you too.” He replied back.
Unfortunately, we had to let each other go. We moved out of each others arms hesitantly and walked back to our families looking back at each other as we walked. We said our last goodbyes to our families and then headed to our cars.
“Drive carefully honey and call me when you get there.” My mom demanded.
“I will mom.” I reassured her.
“You too JD!” She yelled over to him.
“I will Karen!” he yelled back from his car with a smile.
Our families parted ways.
As we got into our cars JD and I gave each other one last glance and wave goodbye. We both got in and drove off our separate ways. That was the last time I would see JD for quite a while. I felt the tears well up in my eyes as it all sunk in.
JD and I went our separate ways off to college. It was hard at first in a new place not knowing anyone. Then it got easier as time passed. My roommate was cool and we became fast friends. It was weird because I never really had a friend that was a girl. I guess there’s a first for everything. JD and I kept in touch mostly through email. We would tell each other how our college experience was panning out. Unfortunately as time went by it became harder and harder to keep up with staying in touch. Plus college was definitely keeping us all busy. As we went back and forth with the emails they started getting less and less. Eventually they stopped completely. I remembered one day after not emailing for a while I tried to start up again. It didn’t work. His email was apparently not valid anymore. This was what I feared the most, loosing my best friend. How was he? Was he okay? All sorts of questions ran through my mind. The worst part of it all was that I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again. I didn’t know what to do. I cried that day. I blamed myself for not keeping up. The only thing left to do was just let him go and move on. I just hoped that whatever happened he’d be happy.