I had imagined it so many times: the perfect dress, the perfect photographs, the perfect music. I thought that maybe afterwards I’d go to a diner or look at the stars. This year, I was in charge of music for prom committee. I picked out the songs that I thought would summarize the year so well; the songs that I thought would sweep people away and make them have one of the best nights of their high school careers. One big, grand moment. The conclusion to an entire year, or an entire four years.
And all of that anticipation was bottled up for a single night. A single night that people spend hours, days, or perhaps months planning. A single night that everyone expects so much from. I had the dress I had imagined myself wearing so many times. I spent time with some of my best friends. I love to dance. And yet still, nothing went as planned.
The DJ hardly played any of the songs I had requested weeks prior.
The place our prom was at was a lot more crowded than it was during the times I had daydreamed about it.
I didn’t stargaze afterwards or get breakfast and tea at a diner.
I didn’t feel that conclusion: that invincible, “this is it yet it isn’t” conclusion. I had expected it to be like a cold breeze against my skin: chilling and refreshing, new yet comforting. But instead it was humid, and everything felt entirely the same.
I don’t regret my decision to go, and I didn’t have a bad time. More than anything, I realized that regardless of how much time you spend planning something, it still won’t go the way you had envisioned it to. Too often, I let my expectations ruin moments and distort memories. Last summer, I did nothing but plan things excessively. I made lists of all the places I want to go to, all the jobs I want to have, all the classes I want to take, all the things I wanted to do that summer.
But looking back on that summer, I hardly remember anything but those lists. No moments. No memories. Just lists of things I wanted to do but never actually did.
You can plan a great night. You can plan your dream job. You can plan the perfect vacation. But the truth is that sometimes, you should just go. Without plans of who you’ll meet and what you’ll see and how you’ll feel, you should just go. Because I’ve found that the things we stumble upon, the moments when we turn down the “wrong” street or get on the “wrong” bus, are the ones that remain embedded within our minds like big, grand moments. Like stars in a cool, breezy sky reflecting on all that we’ve seen and all that we can still see. Illuminating all the times when we smiled when no cameras were around and laughed when there was no one to impress. The times that we lived, and dreamed for real, without posting a picture on Instagram or checking something off a list.
This summer, I’m just going to go somewhere. I don’t know where.
But so much hope and beauty and adventure exists within the word “somewhere”, telling me that “somewhere” is exactly the kind of place I want to be.