When I look back on my life, I find myself drawn to a certain moment in time shortly before I left for my summer vacation in Germany. A group of my friends decided to throw me a going away party a few days before the departure, and gave me a few gifts to take on my two-month trip. By the end of the night I had to send my friends home so that I could pack my things and prepare for my flight two days later, but before parting I had to say a few heartfelt goodbyes to my closest friends. One of the three was particularly hard to say goodbye to, despite the seemingly formal tone of respect most would observe between us. As he approached, and gave me a hug for the first time, a slew of emotions hit me all at once, but did not appear on my face. I hugged the remaining two, and waved good-bye, cleaning up the trash strewn over the garage floor before I rushed up to bed.
Sitting at my desk, I picked up the yearbook I just received the last week of my junior year of high school and began sifting through the pages. I read over the comments left by each of my friends, and traced my fingers over the writing, looking at each of the pictures embellishing the memories. Suddenly the tears began to fall, not in droves or showers, but as single raindrops soiling the pages with thoughts of the past and the future. I silently closed the book, and shut off the light, almost unable to move from my seat.
Today, I take a look at the same yearbook, the inscriptions still wishing me a great trip to Europe, but now that its over, I find myself on the verge of graduation, the memories, new and old whirling around my mind. I think of all the times spent, at softball games, and swim meets, sitting amongst my friends, and cheering on the ones on the field or in the water. I remember dancing at the prom in the heart of Pittsburgh, along with the traffic flow and shine of the city lights at night. I feel the strain of our academic journey, the studying, exams, and torment of striving to excel, all the while sitting at a friend’s house downing pizza, cookies, and soda to alleviate the stress. I can hear the voices singing in the choir, or performing on stage during the heart of musical season, the playbills still stacked inside a photo album. I close my eyes and see the faces, the smiles and laughter that brought joy to my heart, and once again return to that warm embrace last summer. During that moment I realized how valuable each of my friends have been to me, maturing from a socially awkward, shy little boy, to an individual with a voice and a heart. I believe in friendship, the everlasting symbol of love and companionship.
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