Warrior Words: Thanks, Wilton

On Feb. 4, I took my final bow with Freeplay, Wilton High School’s improvisational group. While crying and hugging my castmates directly after, the main thought circling my head was, how on earth am I going to get back to see this show next year? I want to see my best friends perform and make me laugh, even if I’m no longer part of it. And then it dawned on me that I would literally have to find my way back home, alone.

I thought through every possible scenario. If I’m at college somewhere in the Northeast, I’d have to hop from bus to bus and hope that I, a mature, highly functioning 18-year-old grown-up could manage to end up in Wilton instead of rural Maine or a cow farm in Pennsylvania. But what if I’m not in the Northeast? What if I’m on the opposite side of the country? Maybe I’ll have to navigate a huge airport all alone. And that doesn’t include getting to the airport, locating the correct terminal, boarding the plane I’m supposed to board, and then managing to get home from the airport. Not to mention collecting my luggage instead of someone else’s, actually paying to get home with my minimum-wage summer job as a camp counselor, and arriving on time.

I’ve come to two conclusions. First, I love my friends from home so much that I’d be willing to go through all that just to get home for one weekend to see one improv show. Second, the fact that I used to think of 18-year olds as adults blows my almost-18-year-old mind.

As a former 13-year-old filled with angst and disdain regarding Wilton, I have a confession: I actually really like Wilton. Do I plan on living here right after I graduate from college? No, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t met incredible people and made nearly every memory I have here. No matter where I go, I’m never going to forget the late Friday nights spent at Orem’s, the drives by the reservoir, and the ice cream trips to Scoops with the people who have made me into who I’m going to be when I do leave this fall.

I am by no means an adult. I get nervous getting gas alone, I don’t know the first thing about taxes, and I can’t navigate any place other than Wilton, where I’ve lived for 10 years. But at 17, I’m the closest I’ve ever been to adulthood. Because of Wilton and the people here and all the experiences I’ve had, I can tip the waiter properly, I can call and schedule a doctor’s appointment, and I can take money out of the ATM using my debit card. So I guess I’m getting there. And I have Wilton to thank entirely. And Freeplay, I’ll be back next year. Hopefully I don’t take a bus in the opposite direction or go to the completely wrong airport terminal, but after learning so much here, I think I’ll be able to find my way back.

Julia Foodman is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.