I don’t remember much about my last official day of high school — and probably not just because it was, quite literally, more than half a lifetime ago for me.
Nothing in particular stands out about my last day of high school — I don’t recall any tearful goodbyes or overwhelming feelings of joy that I had made it through the past four years of public education. I had long since been accepted into the college of my choice and already passed all of my final courses.
Truthfully, it felt as though the last few weeks of my senior year in high school had been spent going through the motions. It was pretty anti-climactic, considering we all still had the actual graduation ceremony a few days later. Had I known in my adult life I would spend countless hours back in the same school from which I had graduated many years prior interviewing coaches and athletes for the newspaper, my last day of high school likely would have been even less spectacular than it already was.
When the final bell rang, I remember a few whoops of joy — and a few of my louder classmates joking about all the parties they were going to (very few of which actually came to fruition, I believe), and then we were all out the door and standing on the sidewalk in front of the school, milling around and waiting to see what happened next in our lives.
It wasn’t exactly life-altering stuff.
I do, however, remember the last day of my junior year at Troy High School pretty vividly. After school, my two best friends Randy, Eric and I, went cruising around Troy in Randy’s parents’ Escort station wagon for several hours. We literally had no final destination in mind — we barely knew whether to turn right or left at the next stop sign.
We were going nowhere in a literal — and I suppose, at the time, figurative — sense of the word.
I remember the feeling of ultimate independence. Having a friend with a driver’s license and use of a car (even if it was an Escort) was no small deal at that point in our lives. We had no place to be and not a single care in the world. The summer ahead of us seemed to stretch out to infinity.
Honestly, that summer before my senior year would probably be the last one I ever had quite like that. Sure, I had a part-time job that summer, but I was done by 3 in the afternoon every single day. The following summer, I worked a full-time job (second shift, no less) and have had a full-time job every summer since.
My job that summer gave me plenty of free time — and just enough spending money — to do pretty much whatever I wanted throughout those glorious months of June, July and August.
I had known Randy and Hughes for several years prior, but junior year was the first year the three of us had started hanging out on a regular basis and we quickly became inseparable.
More than 25 years later, they remain my two best friends in the world. We’ve seen one another through so much more than what we experienced in the nascent days of our friendship … heartbreak and marriage, the birth of our children and the loss of our loved ones and all the other joys and challenges adulthood brings.
Jobs that pay real money and reaching the legal drinking age have allowed us to have adventures we could only dream of as teenagers … but there’s always a part of me that will forever look back on that far more innocent time with a certain degree of whimsy.
In particular, those summer nights in which we felt like each outing would be filled with new adventures — even though they usually involved playing video games at the mall, cruising downtown Piqua and finishing the night off with cheeseburgers at McDonald’s — are forever ingrained in my memory.
Sure, it doesn’t seem like much now — but at the time, it was nothing short of magical.
In a few weeks thousands of high school students in the area will be released from high school. I hope you enjoy your summer. I hope it’s as magical as the summer of 1991 was for me. I hope you make friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Soak it all in while can — you may just remember it for the rest of your life.
David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.