"Oh, look! It's raining! It must finally be spring! You know what they say," I said with a little eyebrow wiggle and a grin, "April showers bring May flowers."
To my great disappointment, Jessie just kept packing her bookbag and I thought I heard her mumble, "Yeah, and the Mayflower brought death and disease to the Native Americans."
My small smile dimmed in the face of such bleakness. "What's wrong? Don't you like Spring? It's the most beautiful time of the year!"
She flung her bag over her shoulders and gave me what I imagine was supposed to be a grin but came out as a slight grimace. "I never like Spring. It means the school year is almost over.
I especially don't like Spring this year, because after May we'll be graduated and hustled into the dreary reality of responsibility without mental maturity."
I was a little taken aback by the dismal mood of the person that had gone out of her way all Sophomore year to sing You Are My Sunshine in a dreadfully cheery tune to all our friends as soon
as we all made it to school. Jessie was usually passionate and animated, gesturing this way and that while being optimistically giddy about ridiculous subjects.
"Look, I know it's Senior year, but we'll be fine.
Just because all of the pessimists in the world tell us that we'll lose all of our high school friends once we move on doesn't mean that we have to prove them right.
If our friendships could survive months of solitude during a pandemic, I'm sure everything will work out great."
Jessie's face transitioned from upset enough to glare at the back of a child's head when they cut in line to downright anxious anguish.
"I just..." she hesitated, her mouth setting a fierce straight line, "I wish that I wasn't going off to college all on my own.
Everything I see says that the people who go to my choice all tend to form cliques with the people from their high schools, and none of the people in our school are going with me,
never mind my friends. I'm so nervous about everything! Especially roommates. Like, I've never gone to bed without having some YouTube video playing. I can't do that with someone in the room.
Never mind I also can never wake up on time without at least three alarms and I know that would be infuriating to a lot of people, but it's the only way I can wake up.
I'm also super nervous because I'm majoring in computer science, a major notoriously known for being male dominated and guys that program can be so toxic.
I'm also going to be living in a big city for the first time in my life. I also have to make completely new friends and I'm so socially anxious I can barely even talk to most people.
You remember that time we had to introduce ourselves to the staff and I was literally crying, right?" Jessie looked a little wild.
Her hair that had been in a neat ponytail was falling around her face in clumps from her frantic attempts to do something with her hands and running them through her hair.
They were still standing in the history classroom, and while the teacher was cool enough to let us get everything out,
the next class was starting to filter in and I knew that Jessie wouldn't want to be stared at by a bunch of idiot Freshmen.
"Look, let's go into the ROTC room and we can talk this out."
Jessie looked around as if just noticing that she was making a scene.
Her cheeks started to darken, so I grabbed her shoulder and guided her out of the room and down the hallway to the ROTC room.
One of the teachers looked at us expectantly, and I shouted at him saying that I just needed to work some things out with Jessie. He nodded and went back to his computer.
I looked over at Jess only to find that she was looking down at a desk in embarrassment and her hands shakiness belying her general nervousness.
"Look, I'm sorry for snapping at you-"
"No, it's okay. You have completely valid reasons for feeling the way you do." I cut her off before she could get too far into apologizing.
Once she had said an off-the-cuff comment about someone's crazy family and she wouldn't stop apologizing for hours.
"I know you have a lot of reasons to be worried about college, but none of them will do you any good. You're going to get an education, and there's nothing you can do about it now.
It will be scary for you, hell, all of us. However, everything comes down to this: strangers are merely friends we haven't met yet.
There will be nothing you can do about your theoretical roommate until you move in, so stop worrying about it now. Maybe they love blasting people yelling at videogames until they go to sleep.
Maybe they can sleep through your alarms. Even if they can't you'll find solutions, Jessie. You're a problem solver. That's why you went into computer science.
If you can make an app from scratch while in high school, you can learn to get along at a new school.
I also know for a fact that despite your social anxiety, you like to talk to new people and connect with them.
You're such a good leader in our small community, I can't wait to see what you do with a big one.
" At that, Jessie's sour demeanor shifted into one of quiet contemplation with a hint of excitement. "I know you're excited. You should be. It's our Senior year.
Deal with the blows when they come. Don't let yourself be overrun with anxiety before you even set foot on campus."
Jessie gave a big sigh and slowly sunk into her chair. "I know. Thank you for being such a good friend. I just get a bit overwhelmed thinking about how close we are to graduation."
I gave her a wry smile. "I know, me, too."
"You know what else the Mayflower brought?" Jessie asked with a mischievous smile growing on her face.
I looked at her with slight confusion as I hesitantly asked, "What?"
"Me to you."
I snorted. "Only after a few hundred years, you sentimental dork."
We both smiled at each other and we gathered our stuff to make it to our next class, hopefully before the teacher counted us tardy. They hardly did anymore. Senior perks.