if you could say something the whole world would hear, what would you say?

Drink your milk.

When you wake up in the morning and feel too sick or sad to stomach anything, drink your milk. Chug it from the carton when you’re hung over or nearly drunk enough to be, and offer the lid to your dearest pet to lick graciously clean. Skip the water and mix it in your hot cocoa mix. Indulge.

When you can’t sleep at night, heat it for twelve seconds and stop the microwave before it beeps. Hold it in your hands and sip it, don’t shoot it. Offer some to the man you woke up when you cursed quietly after burning your tongue. Remember that he used to be a little boy, and his bones are composed of as much milky whiteness as marrow.

If you drink skim, try two percent. Dabble in soy, almond, coconut. When you study abroad, drink it early in the morning from a cow you befriended that dawn and don’t think twice when it congeals and sticks to your lips. When you’re about to fall off the wagon, think of the milkmaids and milk bottles of old, the quaintness of a fresh batch sitting at the end of one’s driveway, and the quiet awe and admiration they inspired for nature.

If you’re gonna drink – drink your milk.

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what does love mean to you?

Love means you give yourself away.

You package all your secrets as neatly as you can and mail them to your lover and hope he will accept them as part of you. You share your favorite foods and movies and hobbies with him because what would you be without them? You let him meet your friends and family because they are more of your history than you would ever willingly tell him with words. You give him your time and you give him your sympathy and you give him your trust. You give him hope.

As long as he gives back, it works.

When either of you falters is when love is tough. You’ve given all of yourself away at that point and you’re forced to scramble to collect all your pieces before he disappears with them forever. Some things you can only give away once and some things you wish you never gave away at all.

As long as he has something you gave him, you love him.

when was the last time you had one of those moments where everything just feels perfect, when you don’t want to move from that moment at all??

In an attempt to start Spring Break off right, we tried to throw a pool party at a friend’s house. As bipolar as Georgia weather is, it went from 80 degrees to 60 in just a couple hours and the water hadn’t even gotten a chance to warm up so it was freezing cold and a total no-go.

We hung out in the hot tub instead, playing truth or dare, half the girls wearing guy’s boxers because they hadn’t brought swimsuit bottoms. It was even colder when we got out and it was starting to get late and a couple of people had made plans to go to the hookah bar.

This is where that perfect moment starts: we decided to have a rave. Ryan set up the strobe light in his basement and we turned the ceiling lights off and played music super loud and just danced and danced and danced. It didn’t even matter if you could or couldn’t dance because with those lights, everyone looked like they belong in either a movie or a club.

When we were too tired to stand up anymore, we laid down on the floor and pretended to be stoned beyond belief. We talked about what we want to do before we die.

With my hair still wet from the hot tub and a blood drive t-shirt two sizes too big and orange and green lights swimming across the ceiling, I didn’t want to move at all. It was just one of those organic, beautiful, truly teenage moments.

valedictorian speech

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.”
And from that little moonlit egg popped out a little caterpillar – a little caterpillar with a very big appetite. Is that not the beginning for all of us?

We eat not out of greed but out of an insatiable curiosity. We consume what is familiar first, but that alone is not enough to sustain us forever. We must venture out into the unknown, try new foods, grapple with the ineffable. We try out for the tennis team to learn that we are not actually half bad; we work up the courage to sing and dance in the theater spring musical. Some foods will leave a bitter aftertaste, but it is enough to try them once. Others will taste sweetest of all and prove to be most filling. As we eat, we outgrow our skin not just once, but multiple times. We are changed by all we taste until we find what suits our tastes. Still, we are constantly hungry.

Sometimes we forget to appreciate that there is any food for us at all. We get grumpy, frustrated, and only grumpier the fuller we get. But we are still hungry because we are still growing – unlike the caterpillar, not just our tummies, but our hearts and minds. We conquer our fear of heights to reach the brightest, greenest leaves, and we push ourselves to travel farther and eat more each day, testing our own limits, whether that leads us to Ohio State or UGA.

And when our time for simply growing bigger has ended, we are sad. Our stomachs ache with anticipation. We are on the edge of metamorphosis, though not quite there yet, and in that concealed fear and boredom some of us begin to sleep – a lot – perhaps even when we know we should be eating. It gets dark and lonely in that cocoon, and at times we doubt we will ever make it out alive. No other caterpillars can comfort us, so we turn inward, to ourselves. We undergo our final shedding; this time, we wrap ourselves in silk. We’ve worked hard building our cocoon, our own safe haven, but we can’t stay sheltered for the rest of our lives. There is more out there than the tiny world we’ve carefully crafted around ourselves. There are other caterpillars to meet, new discoveries to make, and endless opportunities for us to fall in love with life. There is still so much to devour; this is not the end for us. After all, right when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, she turned into a butterfly.

As we leave here today and test our newfound wings, we should remember those days when our appetites grew faster than we ever could have imagined. We’ve changed, but above everything, we should keep our hunger – that passion, that wonder, that hopefulness – that has brought us to this arena as the S——- High School graduating class of 2011.