Packing for departure

Kurt Erickson, Staff Writer

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These past few years of high school have taught me quite a bit. I’ve learned that a few friends are all that you need. I’ve learned to be careful with whom I trust and that change is good and necessary for development as a person. All of us are experiencing a drastic change in our life and it’s scary, but it is important to learn how to control the fear of our mistakes and overcome the obstacles that are set for us in the future. Just remember not to live life passively. In the end, I am sure you will be glad you didn’t. If I could give any advice that would be better than that, it would be to never forget what you came from.
I’m not originally from Jacksonville. Before arriving in Jacksonville, I lived in a town called Minooka near Joliet, which is near Chicago, and before that I lived on the coast of the Kankakee River. My grandfather owns a house there, and it’s been in our family for quite some time. It’s nothing impressive, but it’s the memories there that count–the sand bars on the river where everyone gathered to socialize and drink, family events, and the wake boarding team whose mascot was named after the giant mural of a giant rat on the giant bridge. Everyone that lived on that river was considered river rats, and that was something to be proud of. Everyone knew each other and it was just always a good time. The transition from my old home town to Jacksonville was very hard, going from a school with a lot more kids than Jacksonville was very different. It seemed like then and even now, that everybody is in each other’s business and a lot of times it was personal things I would hear people gossip about. With that being said, I didn’t enjoy my time spent in high school and Jacksonville, and once I leave, I will not miss it, or at least I don’t think I will. This is for personal reasons. Ever since I moved here, life has just been turmoil. I’ve seen close ones battle drugs and alcohol and almost lose those battles. I realized a lot of people whom I thought were my friends weren’t, and I had an unfortunate ending to my sports career, which was something I was tremendously passionate about.
Not all was bad though, I managed to grow close to a few friends. Two of those friends are Conor Stremlau and Collin Schlieker, or as everyone knows him at JHS “Boobie.” By gaining new friends and losing old ones, I learned that only a few friends will stay in contact with you after high school. The sad thing is that most of the people you think you’re dear to are going to be insignificant to you in a few years, and you will be insignificant to them. As high school is coming to a close, I notice more and more signs of distance growing between people, but that’s just life. The people you are able to truly grow close to will never be insignificant like how Conor and Collin are to me. The fingerprints of the lives you touch will never fade, and I take that very seriously. I don’t need a lot of friends, just a couple close ones. Some of the stuff Collin, Conor, and I did was frowned upon, but it was never bad enough to haunt my conscience, so it was worth it because I had fun and have no regrets. I will always remember our “college visit” to Ole Miss to see some old friends, our very pitiful fishing sessions, and our mischievous ways. Yet now is the time for something to change; childish things like these must be taken out of my life so I can progress. Earlier this week Collin said, “The last four years of our lives have been a roadie,” and he was completely right. As sad as it is, we were often up to no good, but we know we weren’t going to see each other for a very long time so we made the most of it.
I will be returning to the river house and attending a college in Joliet to train to become a fire fighter. Memories I shared with these two and a few others are precious to me, and I will always remember that this is where I came from.
I will definitely be taking three particular things with me on my departure: my fishing pole, all of the memories from here good and bad, and Tom Petty’s Highway Companion. Hopefully I will have some better luck fishing like I used to when living on the river which is a small change that will fit my satisfaction, but you can’t count the little things out. Tom Petty’s Highway Companion includes a song called “This Old Town.” This song is a perfect portrayal off how I see Jacksonville. In the song Petty says, “Lazy Jim took a bottle with him, tried to flag down a train. Left a note, couldn’t read what he wrote. A light came on in my brain. This old town is a sad affair, you be glad you’re not there. It ties your hands, it spikes your drink. I’d say more but I can’t think. “I feel that if I stay in this town and don’t change something then I will end up living a miserable life. That’s why I feel change is absolutely necessary to be happy.

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