It was a normal Tuesday afternoon, second block of the day. I walked the halls of Wilton High School between the periods with an ease and grace, passing familiar faces, locker decorations, and club posters in a simple uneventfulness. But when I turned into Dr. M’s math room, I was ferociously awakened from my thoughtless routine. “My” desk — third row back, four seats from the left, clear view of the SMARTboard with space to whisper to my neighbor without causing a disruption — was covered in someone else’s folder, papers, and calculator.
The perfect qualities of that well-lit desk in the back--characteristics that I had never paid attention to before--stood out like sore thumbs while I frantically selected a spot closer to the front and middle. It felt odd and uncomfortable; I was on edge. And all because of a chair.
Unofficial rules, traditions, and superstitions govern all of us in a predictable and reliable way, becoming habits that ease the tension that comes with change and allow us to feel in control. There is rarely an “11:11” moment I notice without rapidly making a wish, and every potential “jinx” that slips out of my mouth is followed by an automated “knock on wood!” My brother insists on eating a bacon-egg-and-cheese before every basketball game, while some riders at the barn wear the same necklace every competition for good luck. Superstitions and odd habits simply make us feel comfortable and safe.
After this seat incident, I began looking closer into the habitual nature of my day that I have similarly neglected to notice stand out. One day while babysitting, I learned from the perplexed faces of the parents that placing my shoes on top of a shelf or bench after taking them off was not in fact something everyone did, yet our co-dependent cocker spaniel’s tendency to hide shoes in hopes of delaying our next departure made it an essential step in my routine. I began to see that it was not an uncommon occurrence for me mumble to “fives” reflexively under my breath in public places, after years of obliging with my brother’s “Rule of Fives” in the house, a strategy we use to protect our seats for up to five minutes if we remember to say “fives” before we leave. This temporary block to the wrath of my three competitive siblings, just like the shoe placement, has become an essential staple of the Kepner household.
I find myself following these tiny, unknowingly odd reflexes every day, each one with a story or rationale (however small) behind it. We all have daily actions, superstitions, and habits that may seem silly and insignificant, yet nonetheless speak to more than just our daily lives. Whether it’s wearing a lucky necklace, sitting in a certain spot, or anything in between, these actions and habits are wholeheartedly and completely ours, no matter how odd or outlandish they may seem to the outsider.
If I have learned anything from these crazy four years, it is that time will pass and change will happen. It is our habits make us feel comfortable and relaxed throughout them but, like the chair incident, it’s OK if they change as well.
The “white outs” of my Warrior days may be replaced with another color as I leave next year, but I will keep celebrating. My automated “11:11” wish may expire in the next few weeks, but it will be recycled with a new one. And though I will have to leave my three loud dogs and big family when I graduate in a few months, I know my little habits and superstitions will always carry with them a piece of home.