My Last Homecoming

Before coming to high school, I never thought that the cafeteria could possibly get louder or more crowded than it does during middle school lunch. Homecoming grabbed that idea by the earlobe, flipped it on its head and threw it into a swarm of a hundred sweaty, hype-filled teenagers jumping to the beat of deafening pop music.

Homecoming is one of those great American high school traditions that I looked forward to as a kid, so once I was in high school, I made a point never to miss it. Curiously enough, I was never too fond of the event. Like any party, it had its perks, but as a whole, I always thought homecoming was a bit lacking. Perhaps it’s because homecoming is on a Monday, a day I tend to look on with scorn. Perhaps it’s because the space is a tad small for the entire student body. Perhaps it’s because the strobe lights and pulsating bass feel out of place in the room in which I’ve spent so many relaxing hours calmly eating chicken sandwiches over the past six years.

Homecoming just never seemed to “click” with me before. I knew that someday I would look back and reminisce on it, but I never quite figured out why that would ever occur.

I figured it out about an hour into the dance. I showed up relatively on time, got COLOR SPLASHED – a shout out to SAC for the fantastic theme – and spent a while drinking SAC punch outside, idly chatting with some friends, as was my tradition in years past. But after a while, something changed. Maybe I realized that I had one last chance to make homecoming a fun experience, or maybe the “Senior YOLO” mentality kicked in; either way, I found myself on the dance floor for the next few hours having a blast. It’s amazing how deciding to make something fun, makes it so.

I found that the dance ended far too soon and far too abruptly. I wanted more songs, more time, more homecoming. Funny how I had cast doubtful looks towards the dance for three years and just now, in the moment’s dying hours, ended up wanting more of it. I suppose there must be some sort of metaphor for life here.

Then came the Senior Mural painting. I splashed some of my nicknames around in whatever little blank space I could find and was done with it. It wasn’t quite as dramatic of a moment as I had pictured it, but it’s a lovely tradition nonetheless and a nice way to end the evening. We talked on the plaza for a bit, ate, and quietly went home, allowing our last homecoming to drift away.

I’m glad I decided to go to homecoming every year. Even if I didn’t have the best of times in earlier years, I’d much rather have the dull memories than none at all. Although homecoming may seem pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, it’s part of the high school experience, and if you don’t go at least once, you’re missing out.

Elliot Cheung

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