Kids graduate every year; this isnít anything new. But to nearly 400 sets of parents and teens in Waxahachie, this is an entirely new chapter of life. Parents are suddenly childless, and teens suddenly in a new place.
As I take down each poster off my walls, it feels like Iím removing myself from the Home. Each nail hole will be filled in, and someone will be sleeping in my bed as soon as I go. The kids I might have made an impact on will sooner or later leave to be replaced as well. After living there eight years, it seems strange that I will be so suddenly erased. With Aletha and I leaving, the two most senior youth at the Home, most of the stories and lives of kids who have passed through will leave with us. While photos may remain, who will be there to explain what is going on inside of them?
Iím even going to have to start taking my things down from my desk area at the Waxahachie Daily Light, which feels surreal.
As I pass through town, many sites still grip my heart. The parking garage where I spent part of my first date, the College Street Pub where the cats somehow know my friend is going to feed them (cats can sense weakness), and common places like Walmart, Target, and RaceTrac as well as Starbucks and Hastings hold many memories for me. Perhaps by listing them, Iíll never forget the old antique shops Iíve browsed through many times, ShowBiz, Snow Biz (best snow cones in town), the lake Iíve gone to so often, and the houses along Main Street I admire every time I pass. And who could forget the Sims Library, the Courthouse, or Omaís, native to Waxahachie? But deep down I know it is not the buildings of brick and mortar themselves that are home. It is the people inside them that I grew up with who make them mean so much to me. With the seniors leaving, this town will be a different place.
Just think of all the new adventures beginning! I know so many people because I left Waxahachie High and transferred over to Global, working my tail off to get my associateís degree by graduation. It took a lot of sacrifice, but by getting all my basics out of the way, I donít have to waste time getting closer to my dream of being an animator. Weíve all worked hard to get here, so why would we stay?
Waxahachie is ready for a new beginning again; ready for a new glistening senior page in the yearbook, ready for new commanding section leaders in band, ready for new jobs to be filled. Just like it is ready to welcome its new seniors, I find that this year I am suddenly ready to welcome, and be welcomed, by a new town. It was a fantastic story that went on for a good eight years, with a grand plot line. But like every story, it has a time when it must end, or start a new chapter.
And so begins for us Chapter 2: College. The days are flying by, maybe because I am enjoying each one. My friendships are reaching their climaxes because of the little time left we have to hangout. Each moment is more appreciated, each place suddenly more imprinted into my memories so I donít forget.
It is bittersweet, just like it was sitting amongst the other graduates on graduation day, wearing a cap and gown and being blinded by stage lights. I looked around me and saw so many stories, so many characters, each with dreams and families. How nostalgic it is to remember how they looked as kids, young as their siblings cheering in the audience, and to see them now in makeup, earrings, and suits. I am so proud of each of them, at Waxahachie and Global High, and I am rooting for each of them as if they were my own siblings. While I am sad that they and I are going, and that we have to leave this familiar setting, I know we have a whole world out there we were born to explore and change. †
Itís hard to leave a place you know well, and to abandon routines youíve stuck to. But while youíre hyperventilating trying to figure out which books to bring, or deciding if Mr. Snuggles really should come along, or as youíre coping with the loss of friends going to other places, know this: uncertainty is going to lead to the best experiences you will ever have. Good luck, graduates. The story has only been developing, and it gets even better from here.
Tiffany Sweet has served as a newsroom intern with the Daily Light for the past two years. She is a 2013 Waxahachie Global High School graduate, also earning her associateís degree through Navarro College. She will be attending the University of Texas at Dallas this fall.