My bookshelf is filled with old books. Most of them have been covered by a thin layer of dust that seems to be neglected whenever someone does cleaning around the house. Every once in a while I’ll take one of those old books off the shelf, dust it off, and crack it open.
Getting started is always a challenge; it can be hard to put my mind at rest. But once I get going, it’s impossible to stop. Some parts of the book seem familiar to me. They’ll bring back old memories of first forming opinions on the characters, and they even remind me of who I was when I first read the book. But some parts make me question if they were truly there the first time I read it. It’s not just because I had a tendency to skim through the books when I was younger. It’s because I’ve changed, and my interpretation has changed as well.
There’s a famous expression that Thomas Wolfe coined, “You can’t go home again.” It’s a pretty straightforward quote that is meant to tell the reader that it’s impossible to fully regain that feeling of home once you have left. It feels that same way when rereading an old book. No matter how many times you’ve read it before, the book always changes. It’s easy to get swept up in the sadness of the book losing what it had previously meant to you, but there’s something beautiful about change.
To my fellow seniors in the class of 2020, our lives are about to change, and we have a choice ahead of us. We can cling to our lives now and never move forward, or we can cherish the memories we have made and accept the change ahead of us. The memories that we have made in the last four years will not diminish, and while we may never be able to return to where we are today, there’s something incredible about that.
The next time we walk through the doors of 5501 N. Kedzie, we will be visitors in a place that used to feel like home. Northside College Prep will effectively be that old book, one that we will never ever throw out.
So as we all sit in quarantine reminiscing about the times we had and the times we missed, I urge you to open up an old book, dust it off, and read it through the eyes of who you are today.
I look forward to opening up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ten years from now to see that it is no longer the same book that I am reading today.