What am I Grateful for?

What am I Grateful for?
By Julia Lucey

Like any high school senior, I’m so very thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful for the roof over my head and the food on my plate and the clothing in my closet. I’m forever appreciative of the education I’ve been lucky enough to receive for the past 17 years, the one that has made it possible for me to go to college next year. I’m beyond grateful that amidst a pandemic that has uprooted the lives of so many, my loved ones have remained healthy and safe. These things are, of course, what I am grateful for, first and foremost. I make a point of not letting these privileges go unnoticed.

But if this year has taught me one thing, it’s that there are a lot of smaller things in my life to be thankful for. Things that once went unnoticed and unappreciated. Things this time last year I would have been quick to describe as “mundane.” This year, these things have the ability to make my day.

I’m thankful for Thursday mornings, when my “in-person” school week begins and I put on the outfit I’ve been planning since Monday and get in my car and turn on WFUV for my drive to school. I’m thankful that after I park said car there are a bunch of familiar faces waiting for me in the parking lot to laugh with and talk about how we’re so happy to be back on campus after three days of staring at our laptops, pretending that the rows of our classmate’s faces displayed on our screen is sufficient human interaction (it’s not). 

I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the color green, too. It’s always been my favorite color, but there was nothing quite like the brightness of the leaves and grass this spring when I spent most days trapped inside. I spent more time this year than ever before soaking up the sun on my back porch watching the trees’ bare branches grow their spring blossoms, and then their green summer foliage, and then their orange and yellow autumn leaves.

Call me materialistic, but I’m thankful for my red leather jacket I stumbled across last winter at a hole-in-the-wall thrift shop in Philadelphia. I don’t know if fate pertains to articles of clothing, but it fits me perfectly and was waiting right there on the first rack when I walked in. I still get excited to wear it every time, and what else can I really ask for in a piece of outerwear? I suppose it would be more apt to say I’m thankful for clothing in general because curating my own sense of style has led me toward my favorite version of myself. 

I’m thankful for my bike, even if one of the tires is a little deflated, and I haven’t gotten around to pumping it up. Every week this summer, one of my best friends and I carried on with our tradition of ditching the cars and pedaling to our favorite spot at Tod’s Point — just between the Pavilion and the Innis Arden Cottage. I’m thankful that we’re not “too old” to do handstands in the Sound until the sun goes down before we rush to bike home with the little light that’s left in the July sky. Because even though this summer wasn’t exactly like all my summers past, this brought a sense of familiarity. 

I’m thankful for sunny days when I open my window and all the sounds pour in. There’s nothing like the unconventional orchestra of birdsong and lawnmowers and neighbors talking to remind me that even if at times it feels like life is set on pause this year, there’s still a lot of life just outside my bedroom. 

I’m thankful for the time our springtime quarantine gave me for myself (I’m also grateful I was in a position to use this time for myself, comfortable in the safety of my own home). This year I’ve read more books than I had in a long time. I’d forgotten how much I loved the feeling of getting lost in a story and holding on to every word. I also dusted off and sat down at our piano again, stumbling over old pieces I once knew by heart until I got them right. 

I’m thankful that for the past 3 months I was able to go to swim practice with my high school team for one last season. While I wasn’t used to wearing a mask around the pool deck and some of our favorite traditions had to be tabled this year, I got to see all my favorite faces everyday and get a taste of that senior season I’d been anticipating since the 9th grade. 

I suppose we all are, but I’m grateful for music because there are few things as comforting to me as the sound of my favorite songs filling my room. I’m thankful for the musical genius of Hozier and Jack Johnson and Phoebe Bridgers and, well, the list goes on…  I’ve learned this year that music is actually a great way to keep in touch with people, with Spotify making the process of sending someone a song a less-than-10 second process. I’m both thankful and quite honestly a little overwhelmed that while there are already so many songs I love to listen to, there are so many more I’ve yet to enjoy. 

You’d think I’d be sick of it by now, but I’m also thankful for my bedroom. A large part of April consisted of me searching the corners of my house for “wall decor” (although this is a loosely defined term as I’m not sure expired MetroCards, old music festival bracelets, and my parents’ old license plate are considered suitable decorations). I’m thankful for this space I’ve created for myself and myself only; it’s somewhere I can go and feel at peace without fail.  

I’m thankful that there is still so much time to do the things I’ve dreamed of, even if they’re not accessible right this minute. One day I’ll be able to go to another crowded concert and wander around Manhattan and sit in a classroom where half the class isn’t projected on a Smartboard screen but right there with the rest of us. 

So no, this isn’t the senior year I envisioned, and like most others, I’ve felt the disappointment of missing out on some of the rites of passage that have long been promised to me as activities I too would one day get to experience. Even still, this completely and totally unexpected year has been formative in its own ways. It has taken my traditional idea of “thankfulness” and increased it tenfold, teaching me to give all the things that make me happy the appreciation they truly deserve. 

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