STORY BY KAMEISHA JERAE HODGE, FNN EDITOR, ALUMNI BUREAU.
At first, revisiting Friendship was like revisiting an unfinished poem… some parts are so familiar that you can instinctively recite the words without hesitation, while other parts are as blurry as vision during a torrential rainstorm in the African savannah. Other parts, still, are memories that you forgot existed until something slight - the smell of pre-cooked hamburgers, a flickering light bulb - reignites your amygdala.
Walking through the hallways of 3C, I expected to see Trooper Cooper and some holier-than-thou Leadership students telling upperclassmen to get to class. I prepared to turn the corner and see Mr. Ruffin leaning on his doorway, playfully making fun of my peers who'd get sent to ISS. Or even see my best friend Karima sticking Post-it Notes© in my locker.
I saw none of that.
Instead, I saw unfamiliar faces and classrooms occupied by new teachers. The fourth floor was adorned with carpeting and glass doors. The SMART Lab was cold and uninviting without Mr. and Mrs. Shelton’s bright, smiling faces. Everything just seemed off kilter, that is, until I saw an oversized photo of Joseph Brooks tinkering and toying with a robot during the NSBE competition of 2007. Dr. Shairzay was still an affectionate dean whose penchant for student success housed a million words. Students still hated that polo and khaki uniforms were to be worn correctly at all times. The cafeteria food still tasted pretty good and the auditorium still had pretty crappy lighting. Ahh, sweet, sweet nostalgia…
I’ve grown a lot since those days of teenage angst and being rife with young adult debauchery; skipping classes to complete assignments, faking sickness so I can stay home and watch Maury and Jerry Springer… heading to the Yellow House after school to get chicken on a stick with mumbo sauce.
Retrospect is a funny thing. Even though I went off to college and graduated in May with a double major in Africana Studies and English, published a book, and am working on perfecting my poetry so that I can stop chasing my dreams and simply make them my career; I still felt myself clutch my backpack straps as I entered the building. I still imagined walking through the metal detector in the auditorium, and I still remembered Officer Rodriguez and Officer Smitty’s playfulness when clearing the hallways during the school days.
Coming back to FCA five years later, I have recollected memories that I didn’t have to dig deep to acquire. It’s obvious that most of those lines have been memorized well enough to recite for the rest of my life. Fortunately for me, this poem doesn’t need completion. It has enough imagery and lavish conversation enough to stand on its own.