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Image by Annie Spratt
  • Writer's pictureEthan Voss

Songs of Childhood

2012 - The Nights

As I transferred into a new school and church the fall of my fifth grade year, I was faced with the reality of starting over in a new community. Walking into a classroom filled with all new faces, our teacher passed around a test on the first day. Only two students passed the surprise quiz, me and the other new kid sitting a few rows over. As I was still shocked over the fear of the new world surrounding me, I knew right away I would have an incredible new teammate joining me on my journey of life. Just like that, Ben and I became friends. After meeting a few more of the kids in my fifth grade class, my fear of being left out quickly fled as I was surrounded by people I knew I could count on to always be there for me. My first two true friends were Ben and Alex. We spent hours in the backyards swinging old metal bats while hitting tennis balls into neighbor’s yards like we were major league heroes. After our allstar performance, we retreated to the basement as we quietly waged war with each other with our trusty nerf guns, avoiding waking up the parents attempting to sleep right above us. While I usually only listened to weird old music or scores from Disney movies, they introduced me to a whole new genre of electronic music. Avicii was our favorite. With “The Nights” blasting in the car as we rode in the backseat through neighborhoods, I knew to savor the little moments we spent together. The little short kid with nerdy glasses that sat in that wooden desk in Mrs. Olson’s fifth grade class could never have understood how truly important those nights in the backyard were until they were gone.

2019 - Brand New

This time was different. As Ben Rector’s hit song “Brand New” filled the chapel I had sat in every week for five years, I realized that my goal of becoming student body president was finally within reach. While the final seconds of my introduction video played, I looked at my close friend sitting beside me, knowing that he had just delivered an incredible speech to challenge me for the position. As I walked on stage before the entire student body, I hid away the nerves and fear of failure that were lingering in my mind from the previous night as I sacrificed hours of sleep prepping for the big day. I never saw myself running against one of my closest friends and companions as I feared that the results of this election would ruin our friendship. The moment came and I was prepared. I decided in that second not to deliver a fancy, well-scripted speech that I had planned, but instead I had a conversation with the audience about my specific plans and policies that I would put in place. Minutes later, I was on a bus travelling to play baseball against our big school rival. As I rode the bench getting no minutes on the field, my stomach knotted as I secretly was checking my phone constantly in anticipation for the results. I remember nothing of that important game but the pain in my stomach, and getting the long awaited call that I was elected president. Although it was tough at first, my favorite part of this moment was putting the differences aside with my close friend and competitor, Garrin, and knowing that our friendship was more important than the results of any election. We worked together to give our high school a brand new start to a uniquely challenging senior year.

2020 - Old Friends

As I stood in the home dugout at my high school baseball field after choosing to sit out my senior season, Alex came up to me and informed me this might be his final at bat. I assured him that was a stretch as the coronavirus was barely an international issue. He stepped up to the plate, and ended the scrimmage with a walk-off grand slam bombed deep over the right field wall. As he rounded the bases, the notification appeared on my phone that our season may be over. While spring break came to a close the following week and a new reality of online schooling dreadfully loomed before me, I began to think of the late nights spent in Ben’s backyard playing baseball. The moments spent competing in state championships with my best friends by my side. The moments spent talking deep into the nights about our futures and the mystery that lay ahead. Although my senior spring was different then anticipated, I felt more celebrated than any class that has ever come before. The hardest moments came in the summer as all my friends I grew up with since fifth grade began to leave. Andrew and Alex were the first to leave as their future careers in the military cut short the remainder of their summers as they left to begin their basic training. Next came Garrin, travelling to Virginia to study at Patrick Henry College. Andy’s time was quickly consumed as he was promoted to a management position at a local car wash. Ben was the final member of our crew to leave for his collegiate journey, which was very fitting as he was my first friend in my new community. Although we continue to stay in close contact, it is incredibly different talking with my friends weekly over facetime. They each look different than when we left as some traded their hair for a buzzcut, while some grew their hair as far as it could possibly go. While I embraced college and met incredible new mentors, classmates, and brothers, I realized that Ben Rector said it best. There’s nothing like Old Friends.

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