I spent two years of my life in Bill Williamson Hall, the fine arts wing of the high school where I graduated. I took theatre classes, choir classes, performed in countless concerts and one musical there, and every morning, the auditorium was my tribe’s gathering place. We would hunker down in the comfy seats, talk, sometimes sleep, sometimes pair off for stolen quiet moments. It was a refuge from the jungle of cliques and popularity contests. It’s where I convinced myself I could try and study performing in college, and even though that didn’t work out as a primary career choice, I do get paid for playing the piano and I have sung in public several times since. So performing stuck with me just the same.
That performance hall became my home away from home.
I don’t remember saying goodbye to it all.
This memory lapse hit me today as my managing editor stood before me, telling me goodbye in a way that made me cry (just a little). I watched her walk out of the room, the room that has–I hope–been a second home to her for the past three years. A place where she felt safe, a place where she learned not just about journalism, but about herself and about life.
And I was suddenly quite sad that I couldn’t remember an equally emotional goodbye to my own high school second home. Part of that could be age…I said goodbye to Bill Williamson Hall 25 (!?WTFHowdidthathappenIstillfeel16) years ago and perhaps my own emotional sendoff is filed away as a memory I no longer need.
But even though that memory is blank, the lessons I learned in my second home are as fresh in my mind as they were 25 years ago.
I hope in 25 years, my managing editor –and the other seniors I’ll say goodbye to tomorrow–finds her sadness about leaving Room 426 forgotten, instead replaced by her commitment to write, to educate others, to be kind, to fight injustice, to love.
Because that’s what I’ll remember about her.