An Enemy of Time? by Zoey Aldridge (Senior)

People always say that when you’re young all you want to do is grow up, but when you’re grown, all you want to do is be young again. It took me a while to understand what they meant. Now, being in my senior year of high school, all I want is to stop growing up. Time seems like it’s moving so much faster than when I was young. I can’t believe that next year I’ll be off to college, away from my family and most of my friends. Where did all the time go? I went from being fawned over by my mother’s colleagues as a toddler, to being in my first play in preschool, to leaving my elementary school after my so-called-friends gave me so much trouble that I had to be homeschooled. Then I went from dealing with the Dodge-Ball Bullies in middle school at my homeschool program, to finally going to a public school again for my first year of high school, to now my final year. So much has happened in my life and in just my high school life alone. I’ve lost so much, learned so much, and in the process found… me. But some parts of me, when I grow older, will have to be left behind. Next year I’ll be moving away.

Everything will be even more different than it already is.

I’ll no longer come home to the sound of my siblings playing video games in the living room. I’ll no longer get to be taken home from a friend’s house by my dad, him going on about music or his youth. I’ll no longer get to poke my mom to wake her up when she’s in the middle of helping me study. 

I’ll miss those times. It’s hard to imagine a life without my youth. Being an adult is one of the scariest things I’ve ever gone through, scarier than the roller coasters I went on in Disney World with my small army of a family, the silly photos that were captured of us in the moment never failing to make us laugh when we got off the ride. 

Even though I still have so much of my life ahead of me, I can’t help but mourn this closing chapter of my youth. I find myself thinking of the past more often these days, wishing some things were the way they used to be. I mourn lost friendships, lost connections, lost loves. But at the same time, I’m grateful for the things I’ve gone through, for the things that are different now. I’m glad for the new friends I’ve made, for the new connections I’ve fostered, and as for a new love… well, that’s just something to look forward to in the future.

Time is so frustrating, so saddening, but also helps me be grateful. When I began putting my thoughts on this page, I started with the mindset that time is my enemy, but perhaps it isn’t. Nor is time my friend. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe time is just a lens, a tool we use to gauge our lives and the people we’ve grown to be. Life is too short to ponder over where you’re in a good place or a bad place. It’s easier to just live. Yes, there will always be regrets. Yes, there will always be things you wish didn’t happen or could have turned out differently. But yet, there will always be things you can fall back on. There will always be certainties. There will always be opportunities. Always. That is something time cannot take away, rather things it can mold and shift. No, I don’t have the same friends I had during middle school. I’ve grown apart from many people in my time, but I’ve always had friends. I’ve always had people I can rely on, even if they weren’t the same ones I relied on years ago. This is the example. 

But even so, in life there will always be things even time cannot shift. Are there some friends I’ve had since as long as I can remember? Of course. And as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I can more easily tell when I make a new friend if that person will be one of those who joins me on my journey for the rest of my life.

Hang on to those certainties, whether they are shifting certainties or certainties that will always be set in stone. Those certainties are what help us weather time. Those certainties are a part of who we are. I’m not the same person I was in my youth, and I won’t be the same person I am now when I grow old. But there will always be parts of me that will never change, those certainties. 

My personality is a certainty. 

My family is a certainty. 

My faith is a certainty. 

My God is a certainty.

My kindred spirits I have for friends are certainties. 

And the certainties I decide to make certain are a part of those, too.

No, my dad will no longer drive me home from friends’ houses, but I am certain that I will hold on to the things he told me on our way home. I will always remember how happy I was just hearing him laugh at something I said in our moments alone together, his laugh lighting up the car better than the headlights piercing through the night air. No, my mom will no longer study with me as she struggles to stay awake, but I will always remember how warm her robe was when I’d lean against her, looking over her shoulder. I will always remember how soft and homely it felt, like a newly opened container of whipped cream, one that will always bring comfort and will never lose its sweetness. No, I will no longer get to come home from school to my siblings playing video games, but I am certain that they will come to my place to play my horror games when they are old enough. I will always remember their excited chatter wafting through the whole house, going on and on like a small group of parrots. I will no longer get to have sleepovers with my sisters in the room I have in the basement, giggling about boys and playing stupid board games from the 80’s until it gets too late, but I am certain that my sisters will be one of the first people notified when a man gets down on one knee and I say yes. I will no longer sneak out during a girls’ night with my friends to go to the store for the heck of it, but I will always remember how cool I thought it was, the feeling in my mind parallel to going bungee-jumping or scaling a skyscraper. Even when more of the people I love leave this earth, they will always still be with me, no matter how cheesy that sounds.

Time is only an enemy if you make it one.

So don’t.

Hold on to every memory, even the ones that hurt, because with them comes growth. You can reminisce, but make sure not to get stuck in the past, because time will not wait for you to return to the present. 

My grandma always says, “Make new friends and keep the old.” 

Do the same with memories. Hold on to your memories, but don’t be afraid to make new ones. Because as time continues to pass, those new memories you’re making will become your past, which adds to the everlasting tapestry of who you are.        

People always say that when you’re young all you want to do is grow up, but when you’re grown, all you want to do is be young again. So don’t let yourself be an enemy of time. Live.