The following letter was written by Wilton High School rising junior Bella Andjelkovic, and reprinted with permission.
Dear Wilton High School,
Why am I writing to you? I know, I’m asking myself the same question. How could someone like me, who has always complained about the stench of the senior hallway, the prolonged anxiety, the unreasonable expectations, the amount of work, the food in the cafeteria, the teachers who assign too much, the life that overwhelms each and every student, possibly want to reach out? As I sit here writing this, I cannot even begin to describe the current situation in terms that make sense. Life has become a monotonous vortex, sucking the life out of not only the world but the people that populate it as well. I no longer hear the words “I want to go home” from anyone; it feels like the world decided to take a quick beach vacation for a few months, but forgot sunscreen, and is currently searching the aisles at the pharmacy for a bottle of aloe. Unfortunately, the store no longer has aloe in stock, due to the frantic customers, selfish people, and overly prepared individuals who will take anything they don’t need. The world can only wait, overwhelmed by humanity, and unable to escape the painful burn that spreads without warning.
But not all essentials have sold out, and in fact, the object that still lies on the shelf is the only thing I didn’t think I needed: A pair of glasses. I wear them as my fingers make their way across the keyboard, as I watch the news report for the day, as I look to my siblings, as I comfort my own mom struggling with the virus. Sometimes, I wish they were dirty, I truly do. I wish that I couldn’t see past the thick lenses, rimmed with gold wire and brown plastic. I wish that they were broken, shattered so badly I couldn’t even make sense of the world two inches in front of my face. Maybe I like the world blurry, it’s horizons so unknown that I would never see the bad, the wicked shadows, that want to grab my ankles and rip me under my bed into the darkness with them. Sometimes, I wonder, is it better to be blind than to have to constantly see the malevolence that threatens human existence?
It wasn’t until I almost had my glasses off of my face that I realized why I needed them. If I was blind, if only faint shapes without any detail lined my vision, I would not see the good. The courage, strength, and ferocity that surrounds me every single day, and that others use to fight through obstacles without complaint. I would never know that individuals display kindness, without even a blink of hesitation, to people they have never met before. Yes, I’d rather not see the bad, but I’d rather see the good than nothing at all. I shoved my glasses back on my nose, pushing them snugly in place with my finger against the metallic bridge.
They would stay a little longer.
Without them, I wouldn’t be here, typing this in my bed late on Saturday night. I wouldn’t be here to say that I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I’m sorry for being ignorant, for complaining, for not stopping in the halls to take you all in. I’m sorry for not giving you the chance to show me your potential, your beauty, your importance. I messed up terribly. After all that we have been through, the good and the bad, I wanted to tell you that I forgive you Wilton High School. For everything. I know that you can’t possibly forgive me, but I just had to tell you how special you really are.
I forgive you for your crowded buses in the morning and the times that I would just barely make the first period. Now, looking back, I regret more than anything not saying a final goodbye to the man that has been driving me back and forth since day one of middle school.
I forgive you for the loud, noisy hallways that I lugged my volleyball, and then basketball bag through, along with my normal backpack. I’m honestly surprised my back hasn’t broken from the weight of what I carry, but I would now do anything to have that backpack on again, giving me purpose and direction in my life.
I forgive you for the exams and quizzes that caused me anxiety to the point that I would sweat under the pressure. I would do anything to restart sophomore year again to feel the adrenaline. To experience the fiery desire I once had to care.
I forgive you for the smelly bathrooms in the new wing, where I used to rush my conversations with friends not only to make class but to escape the stench as well. At least those conversations were better than none at all.
I forgive you for the often unreasonable amount of work I was assigned. I should have worked harder to meet my goals, and now, I can only hope for chances like those.
I forgive you for the floors that made my green, hightop converse squeak when I walked.
For the water fountains with a filter status on the red light.
For the pencils I lost after I swore they were just on my desk.
For the scantrons I didn’t bubble dark enough.
For the late nights coming off of the basketball bus after losing a game.
For the stinky gym clothes, that I now realize were not your fault.
They were mine.
Just like everything else I didn’t like about you.
All of this time, you’ve been doing your job, by being there, educating me about the world, giving me a reason to get up every day, and showing me the importance of my actions and words.
I know I made a mistake. I really do. All I’m asking for is a second chance. Another chance to make it up to you, to express how much happiness and connection you bring into my life, but most importantly, how you help me understand myself and my place in the world.
I forgive you, Wilton High School because I have been wrongly accusing you this entire time of actions I couldn’t even forgive myself for.
And I want you to know that as I take off my glasses to go to sleep for the night, I don’t need them anymore. I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen enough to know that no matter how many pairs of glasses I try on, my own eyes hold the power. I have held the power to make a change this entire time. It’s my fault, not yours. Now as we approach the first day of school, all I can hope for is that you can forgive me as I have forgiven you. I will be waiting for you as long as you need me to.