Two months ago, I sat in biology class frantically calculating probabilities and phenotypic frequencies on a Hardy-Weinberg quiz I wished I had studied for. No less than five minutes after I had scribbled my last answer, the teacher announced that school would be closed until April. Instantly, heads were raised. We cheered, ecstatic that our spring break would be longer, granting us the extra week we all so desperately craved to spend with friends: picture us laughing over milkshakes, Pink’s hot dogs, and that silly biology quiz we all forgot to study for.
What was at first one extra week soon became two, and then three, four, and then the rest of the year.
Today, I revisited my red and gold high school. We were seniors, and we needed to return our textbooks. We parked our cars in the front lot where we used to wave to teachers each morning and watch nervous freshmen hobble out of their parents’ minivans. We dropped off the economics books we never used, cleared old newspapers and history notes from our lockers, and shut their creaky orange doors one last time. We walked past the math building where we met our iconic first friends in geometry and where we later learned to mourn our grades before calculus exams. Past the lunch tables where we crammed Latin, literature, and $2 pizzas from the church nearby and behind the swimming pool where we asked out that boy we liked, we opened our car trunks and waited for our teachers–masked and gloved–to drop off our cap, gown, and diploma before waving us goodbye.
On the way out, we drove past our old science room. We thought for a second that we could see our biology teacher standing at the door as she did each day to greet her sleep-deprived seniors. We remembered those long, hot days when we prayed for air conditioning and excuses to leave class early. No one could forget the tired looks shared after difficult exams nor the joint sighs of relief after they were curved. Nor could we forget that very moment in biology class we failed to realize was our last. One by one, we slipped quietly back to our houses, rooms, and computer screens, understanding what it means to miss something that is now so suddenly gone.