The white-water rafting guide showing the slideshow moves onto the next photo. Spray consumes our raft as it buffets against a wave. Oars are splayed in the air, arms spinning frantically to get us through the rapids. Our faces grin at us, twisted in concentration, gaped open from a surprise wetting, frozen in time. The guide zooms in on a foot disappearing into the waves, and the whole room erupts into laughter. The next photo shows a startled classmate turning to see our guide gone. Then his abashed grin as he clambers aboard again. Our faces are red from grinning.
We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well since that first shy day of class. For some of us, it’s been our first time climbing a mountain, and our first s’mores. We’ve gone cliff jumping, and foraged for wild blueberries and wintergreen. Together, we’ve braved port-a-potties and going down steep forest trails on a bike. Weathered grumpy moods and sleeping in a tent in the rain. And of course there have been those early mornings, where everyone ends up sleeping on the bus. We have gotten through and have stood together on the summit of Mount Monadnock, grinning and tired, fists in the sky.
Visiting Emily Dickenson’s house, we have peered into the room where she wrote, and stood on the lakeshore where Henry David Thoreau lived two years by himself. I think one of my favorite days though, was when everyone showed us their homes on Google Maps and told us what made it special to them. Each search that loaded revealed a new world; red hills sprawling around desert towns; cities with crammed apartments or with towering 2D skyscrapers slumping into the projector screen. Street signs in Taiwanese, Japanese, Spanish and English. I’m really going to miss these faces when I’m gone.
But right now I’m here in my dorm. Voices join in to a bittersweet song, and we cling on to the last minutes with our friends until lights out. We only have two days until we leave, and we are starting to realize that it’s almost over. Packing and final projects are at hand. We haven’t voiced it, but we are dreading Saturday. Saying goodbye to friends, fellow conspirators, and roommates that we have gotten to know this last month. Going back to our lives, straight into school, sports, activities. But in this instant I’m here, and it’s now. And I’m going to savor every last moment.