Dreamy purple string lights blur the dim room as my friends dance like shadowed silhouettes in the night. Light laughter skims through the room in its entirety like a coffee mug brimming to the top with warm cream. Music from the early 2000’s that we now refer to as “classic” reverberates against my best friend’s bedroom walls at a volume that her parents refuse to reprimand at this point.
This is because we are eighteen, thrust with a label that we cannot even grasp quite yet: adult. We have just learned how to differentiate laundry detergent from fabric softener and necessities from desires. Yet, the expectations of adulthood seem to settle at the bottom of a never-ending load of new responsibilities.
As we twirl in the fervent air, no one dares to address our inevitable separation in just a month; when school begins again, and the real world wakes us from this beautiful pause. When mornings will not be spent carelessly lip-syncing the High School Musical soundtrack and bouncing off the walls from “sugar highs.” When midnights will not be restricted to delirious conversations on the bay with larger-than-life tubs of “Phish Food.” When we all return to our respective schools and swear to visit once a month, never considering the impracticality of hasty promises.
But we are hopeful, today. Standing tall in our assorted oversized university sweatshirts, we spill forgotten tales of the months spent apart, and the familiarity slowly washes over us with the warmth of an old favorite song. Unconsciously, we familiarize ourselves with people we have never met and places we have never seen, the friends of our friends and the places they frequent on campus. As we speak with smiles as wide as the largest oceans, we witness the beauty in all our individual escapades.
We are not bound in this instant and it will never be wrong to look forward to the future. Once we embark as independent individuals in six weeks, a different type of joy will overtake us. Even though college calls for self-produced curfews and endless hours of agonizing study, we will not lose the pieces of youth that we cherish most while surrounded by each other. We will share laughter with other friends and garner experiences that will be looked back upon with full hearts.
In growing up, you learn to move forward, appreciating the past but never binding yourself to it.
In just a few more months, we will dance together once again.
words & photo_anjuli sharpley