38.8403° N, 97.6111° W, or Salina

Everything is the same.

The girls’ locker room with the automatic light that only comes on seconds after waving your arm in front of it.

My name, written in shitty cursive, calling out to the Class of 2008 from the underside of a bright blue support beam. Other names etched into decade old dust. Tara from the Class of 2002. Kendra from the Class of 2007. We were all that young once. I want to write a thank you note to the janitors that never visit here. I want to write it in the dust and see how long it lasts.

Posters defining courage and integrity and excellence still decorate the hallway. Touchdown Jesus still has his arms raised and our senior pictures still hang in thick plastic sheets across the hall from him and the storage space and development office.

Everything is the same.

It’s strange–strange enough to force us into classrooms to try to find our names in books older than we are. It’s strange enough to make us lose track of time as we scan their histories, dating from 1988 to 2011. It’s strange enough to make it a little more believable when we find our siblings, but never ourselves. But we look and we look and we look.

We look through stacks of Physics books, Grammar and Composition books. We don’t bother checking the Bibles but we check the weight room and then we realize that it’s all so perfectly familiar because it is the place. The place where, if not all, at least most of it happened. I want to sing “Oh, you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet” to the hallways and the classrooms and to that one teacher who kept her closet light on and her room covered in butterflies.

I want to say thank you, but mostly I want to say goodbye.

“There was this book I read and loved, the story of a ship

That sailed around the world and found that nothing else exists

Beyond his own two sails”

And mostly, I want to let go and move on and find a way to make a life that dares me to act, then asks me for my truth.

And what did you learn today, it will ask. And I will tell it all.

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