For most of us, Wilton is the only home we've ever known. Every place we pass is a memory: the basket at Village Market where our clumsy four year-old hands happily snatched a bag of chips, the booth at Orem's where we slurped milkshakes after a sweaty sixth grade soccer game, the swings at Merwin Meadows where we realized our (temporary) dreams to become professional aviators one day. It's hard to walk into a store and not recognize half the customers or start up a conversation with someone familiar: that's just the “Wilton way.”
Though there are perks to cycling through the same faces and places year after year, we grow bored with our surroundings and community. Rather than cherish the comfort of routine, we reach our arms outward towards the unknown, craving something new, something exciting, something more. We want to go bungee-jumping off a waterfall, see penguins in the Antarctic, meet a starving artist with a mustache from Berlin, and when we remember that all we have are the pool at the YMCA, the geese that rudely soil Kristine Lily Field, and our pals who still remember the time we wet our pants in the second grade, we often become frustrated, for we just want something different. Little do we realize that there is a world of unknown waiting to be discovered just beneath our noses.
A few weeks ago, I met up with a new friend to go for a walk on a casual Wednesday morning. Weaving our way past Portofino's and underneath a bridge, we skirted past train tracks and arrived at a trail which I had never traversed before. My friend lead me through the fallen leaves to a dappled spot beside a pond, where we sat and listened to She & Him, writing in journals and enjoying the sunlight. For a moment, I forgot that this was Wilton, the town where I had lived since the age of two. Through all of these years, how could I have overlooked this spot or this lovely person sitting before me?
I know this is my last year here, and that this time next September, I will be curled up in the corner of a college library, editing my English 101 essay in between coffees with strangers from far away. While this greatly excites me, I'm beginning to understand that there's so little I know about the people in front of me right now, the people I've known since my kindergarten days at Miller-Driscoll. I walk past peers who were in my first grade class, whose locker was next to mine at Cider Mill, who were on the bus with me when we got stuck in the snow, and I've found that I don't really know them...at all. What's her favorite color? Where is his favorite place in the world? Why does she always drink sparkling water as opposed to flat? We know names and faces and pieces of stories, but very rarely do we get a glimpse at the whole picture.
For we seniors in this time of college applications, screams, tears, laughter, and goodbyes, it's easy to brush others aside and push forward, but I think it is more important than ever to embrace the good in each individual at the high school and in the Wilton community. I want to uncover everyone's favorite song, peanut butter preference (crunchy or smooth?) and funniest joke, but most of all, I want to listen to each person's aspirations, for I believe there is a lofty dream inside of everyone, regardless of whether she shouts it through the senior hallway or keeps it to a whisper inside her heart.
The choice is ours: we can let the year slide by in anticipation of later discovery or begin our great adventures today, starting with unlocking the beautiful secrets of those who surround us. I challenge myself (and you) to choose the latter.