This picture, probably the only one in existence of all my friends together, has more meaning than it seems. At first, it appears to be nothing more than a happy congregation of teenagers, all from the ages of fifteen to sixteen. In the background you can see a fence enclosing a sand volleyball court. My friends that are kneeling on the bottom row are Shawn (who is affectionately known as Goose because of his long neck and his last name being Gosselin) and Paul. The ones on the top row are, from left to right, Brad, Matt, Kayla, Charlie, Jenny, Greg, Brent, and Daniel. I am at the far right side. You can tell by the expressions on some of their faces, especially Paul's, that they weren't quite ready for the picture to be taken, for more reasons than one. First, there was someone else taking a picture at the same time. Also, most of them never could have guessed that the picture would have to be taken in the first place. After all, I was supposed to be with them forever, right? Wrong. This was my going-away party.
I made the decision to come to Baylor early in 1999 while my freshman year was still in session. At first, people thought I was joking about leaving, but when I persisted in telling them, they had no choice but to accept my decision. I had spent most of my life with some of these people, while some I had known for less than a year. I didn't think about that in the beginning. At first I was excited to go, but about the time of this party, the anxiety of leaving hit me like a sledgehammer. The party was August 10th. I left for Baylor ten days later on August 20th. Those ten days were some of the most anxious of my entire life. Was I willing to give up my happy existence to step into an unknown world of doubt? Well, as you may have guessed, since I am writing this paper, I was willing to take that chance. The question of whether it was worth it or not has yet to be answered.
I had no idea the party was going to happen. I assumed I was in for nothing more than a standard family night out when I piled into the car with my mother and sister. I suppose I should have suspected something when my mom said she was in the mood for Pizza by the Pound. Her suggestion may not seem odd at first, but you have to realize she had never been there before. I didn't even suspect something secret was going on when we first arrived in the parking lot of the small, locally owned pizza place. But then I saw three of my friends' mothers' cars. Despite the chink in the plan's armor, I was still fairly surprised when I went out back and most of my best friends burst out of the small building used for storage.
Pizza by the Pound is home of some of the most fattening, artery-clogging, great-tasting pizza you can ever imagine. After one taste, just the thought of it makes your mouth water with anticipation. The management of the place was wise enough to put in a sand volleyball court, a ping-pong table, and a couple of pool tables outside to make it more family oriented than it used to be. In the past it was mostly known for adults wanting to get to know Mr. John Barleycorn a bit better than they should. Despite the drinking inside, there was always fun to be had outside with the right group of kids, just like the group at my party. We played our own version of football on the volleyball sands with a volleyball, ate the delicious pizza, listened to bad country music from the jukebox (as if there are any good types of country music), and recorded messages on my family's camcorder. Looking at the picture, I can still feel the fine grains of sand sifting between the toes of my quickly moving feet and hear the cheers of my team drown out the music as we score a touchdown.
Overall, the party was great fun, and I was given some nice things to remember people by, such as a t-shirt with my friends' comments, memories, and thoughts on it. I miss all of them now since I'm away at boarding school, but I keep in touch through e-mails and written letters. I know I'm missing a lot in their lives, but the choice to leave was for the best in the end. And hey, I got a cool party out of it, right?
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