The Next Chapter
My mom walked over to me and sat down. She looked at me with that we need to talk face and asked, “Have you decided yet?”
“No, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow’s the last day, you won’t have any more time than that.”
“I know,” I said while getting up and going to my room.
I can remember in only fifth grade, my mom had taken me out of Catholic school and put me into a charter school. I had to start my life over, make new friends, get to know new teachers. Eventually, I did it, but in the back of mind, I can still remember my Catholic school friends. I love these new friends of mine, and I hope to always remember them. I don’t want for them to turn into memories of good times. I want to make more of those good times, but can I do that on my own?
I have the choice to stay with my friends but I’m being drawn to another high school. Science Leadership Academy didn’t even exist in mind until my friend told me about. He seemed to be on top of everything with open houses and applications for schools but I didn’t care that much about it. I’ll still be able to talk to him, even if we're in different schools. We may not see each other as much but we’ll still remember each other. I said the same things to my friends in fifth grade and that didn’t happen. Everything I am is because of my friends and going to high school, people will see me but in myself, I can only see my friends.
It was hard but I did what I thought was best for myself. Looking back on my decision as a junior, I still question myself what it would have been like if I decided to do something else. This summer when I had visited my family all the way in Poland I thought the same thing.
I had got to get to know my cousins, I’d spent time with my grandparents and, I had even had the chance to experience a Polish wedding. It was such an incredible time for me to be able to experience a different life that I could have lived. I can still picture it in my head, the beautifully trimmed grass, the rows of raspberry bushes next to a field of strawberries, all right outside our house. At night we would light bonfires six feet high and cook polish sausages, but the thing I remember the most and will miss the most was the stars. Every night I would lay down in the peace and quiet, and look at every bright star in the sky. This was something I could never do at home. My parents grew up here yet they left it all behind to come to the US.
Chapter after chapter was written in their book of memories but before it could be finished, they stopped writing it and began another. After years of work, editing, and perfecting it was all left behind. A life project changed in an instant.
The very first time I had visited my family in Poland, I was able to see a glimpse of the forgotten book. I had the chance to pick cherries for the first time and learned how to start a fire but my most vivid memory was that of my great-grandmother. She was what you would expect an old lady to be, shriveled up, fragile, with snowy white hair. I remember sitting there in the log house, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how she could live here for so long. No running water. No heating. No cooling. I sat there on this old wooden chair in front of her while she talked about how lucky she was to see her great-grandchildren.
After a while, we had to leave and we began to say our goodbyes but what she said to me I can still clearly remember to this day, “I’m so happy I had the chance to meet my great grandkids, even if it was only once.” When she said that last statement I froze in shock. I was at a loss for words.
I told her, “We’ll come back and visit you, we’ll see each other again.”
I couldn’t live up to my words.
It is only after our greatest losses that we can truly understand their worth. My great-grandmother will always be remembered, my friends will always be remembered, and my parents will always remember where they came from. The past does not decide who we will become, but it does help us remember what we have been through. I see now that we never stop writing our book of memories. Unless our first chapters are only the beginning, we will never be able to clearly write the next one.