An Open Letter to the Senior Class


Who knew, when our parents welcomed us into the world eighteen years ago, it would all come to this?

Even in first grade, this year loomed in the distance. The year we’d be reaching for, the year we’d be ready for, one day. We went through middle school berated with “that won’t fly in high school”, traversing the desolate desert devoid of social skills and surviving whatever the hell that thing at the end of eighth grade was supposed to be only to end up here and find that everything did, in fact, fly. We fell out of touch with the old friends and found the new ones, hoping that we (and they) wouldn’t forget too quickly. We learned of the fabled rooftop pool, remembered to wear sweatpants to school to avoid changing in the locker rooms, and discovered where the secret lunch party classrooms were. By the end of sophomore year, our pets knew C&C was a warzone even if our parents didn’t, and by the time we walked through those big squeaky metal doors for the third year in a row, we were ready for anything.

Or so we thought.

What do you say to someone who was amputated from your life before either of you were ready? What can you say, knowing that neither of you have made a single effort to connect in a year and a half? How do you talk to someone you used to have something overworked and complicated and bottled-up to say to? What if you can’t remember what it was anymore?

These were the things that were going through my head as I stood in an uncomfortably close circle with unfamiliar friends at the senior “prom alternative” on Friday. We ate the plain single hot dog we had been afforded and reminisced about things that weren’t really interesting or funny, but that we had endured together, almost as some sort of mutually unspoken compensation for lost friendship. There wasn’t enough time to learn what everyone had been up to – or maybe no one had been up to anything. I don’t know. I couldn’t tell. I smiled. I waved. I laughed.

And then the movie started, and a good two thirds of the crowd left en masse, embarking on restless expeditions to Cook-Out or Frankie’s Fun Park and leaving forty of us stranded like rubber ducks when the bathwater drains away. I felt like I understood the exodus; this wasn’t prom. Prom should have been bigger, different, better. The sparkling gowns and tuxedos had been replaced with “free food trucks,” a hollow phrase which our single cold hot dog had been shamefully hiding behind.

But I think we all understood the more important reality. This wasn’t about prom – we were the big losers. After playing the game for fifteen years, always looking up the ladder, always hoping to be the big fish one day, the shining prize at the end of the tunnel had been ripped from our fingertips by a faceless thief that would never know who we were. This was our chance to be somebody, but instead, we were nobody. A generation of freshmen would come and go without ever knowing or caring that we, too, had once walked these halls. And a Cook-Out quesadilla wasn’t going to fill the gaping hole in our hearts.

I don’t like to cry, but for all of us, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the ones who won’t be back. I’m sorry for the ones who will read this and wonder if we could have been friends. We could have. I’m sorry for the ones who have wallowed, I’m sorry for the ones who don’t think they care, and I’m sorry for myself.

So when it was my turn to scribble my name on that jagged rock in the junior lot on Friday night, I found I had nothing to say. I struggled for almost fifteen minutes to think of some closing remark, some final offering, knowing full well that if I didn’t come up with something soon, the administrator standing behind me was liable to rip the sharpie out of my hand just like everything else this year. I clung to my moment, straining for something, anything, a quote, an image, a thought. Nothing came. I stepped forward and scratched my name onto the cold surface.

Then, an old friend stepped around from the other side of the rock, scanned the expanse of vacant stone, and wrote his name next to mine. I stood there for a long time staring at our names, inches apart. It was the closest we had ever been.

Some things are made to be unfinished. I looked down at the last bite of the hot dog in my hand, walked to the trash can, and threw it away. 

Here’s to us.


-Anonymous, Class of 2021