Road to Joy: Listening to Vitamin C’s “Graduation” on repeat

Friends from past lives deserve better than to be pushed away, no matter how much we’ve evolved.

By Jenny Lee

I don’t like clutter, so I bought a picture frame—the kind that holds 15 pictures if you cut them just right. I put in one picture of my family, one picture of my dog, and 13 pictures of high school memories. There was the time when we skipped school to go down to Bourbon n’ Toulouse and wore fake unibrows and threw up the 3-goggles in support of (champion of champions) U.K. basketball. There was the time when we spent four ridiculous hours putting on ridiculous make-up for the ridiculous affair that was the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games. There was the time when we went to a country club and had dainty little sandwiches, only to lose those happy finger foods at the rich girl’s field party a few hours later.

I didn’t want to remember those memories, so I put the picture frame in the back of my closet.

The summer after graduation, I discovered the Myers-Briggs personality test, and with it, what seemed like a whole new realm of the Internet that suddenly knew exactly who I truly was. The summer after graduation, long hours were spent desperately soaking in every word of every website that could have “INFJ” control-F’d. The summer after graduation, I realized I had been someone else for all of high school. The summer after graduation, it all made sense: why I rarely had fun at those huge, I-know-like-three-people-here parties, why I hated lunch table conversations with the big group of popular girls, where my throat would hurt from trying to keep up with the gossip, why I’d made up excuses to cancel plans, but not before making sure that my excuses weren’t “I want to sit in my room and watch Netflix,” but “Sorry, girl, I’ve got lunch and dinner plans at the hibachi grill with my girlfriends from summer camp.”

I didn’t want to realize that it was my fault, so I blamed my friends. I ran into a brick wall of I-can’t-believe-who-I-pretended-to-be-for-the-past-four-years. I saw college as the escape I needed from high school to be my introverted self. For a long time, in my mind, it was my friends that had forced me to pretend. For a long time, I didn’t keep in touch with any of them. For a long time, I kept that picture frame in the back of my closet.

I didn’t want to continue to be wrong, so I took the picture frame out of my closet. It is covered in dust, and I’m reminded of the people who cared for me for four tumultuous years, only to be shut away. There is the picture in the corner of us at Jesus Camp, where we’re wearing matching T-shirts, wet from the zip-lining through the lake. There is the picture of us smiling before graduation, holding our cutesy mason jars in typical Southern fashion. There is the picture of us laughing hysterically, arms around each other, about something I can’t quite remember and can’t quite forget.

I like indulging in my feelings, so I’m playing Vitamin C’s “Graduation” on repeat. Tomorrow, I’ll send Amy funny FMLs from that long-forgotten site, I’ll ask Rachel if she’s watched any David Bisbal music videos lately, I’ll ask Madison if her aunt has convinced her to become a nun yet, and I’ll ask Jamie if she’s seen the Grim. I’ll send them a picture of the picture frame that is out of my closet and hanging on my wall—neatly, because I don’t like clutter.

Jenny Lee is the blogger behind Road to Joy. She is a second-year in the College majoring in political science.