Stop and look around, be a bigger part of world
There is a window on upper C porch at West Linn High School. It's a huge floor-to-ceiling window, taking up a whole wall next to the science labs. It looks over the lower parking lot and the street that goes right in front of the high school.
Before I discovered this window, I used to wait at the curb for my grandma to pick me up after school. I would sit and wait for 10 minutes a day, getting cold and wet.
But because of all of this sitting and waiting, I got to see some things.
I saw crows hopping in the trees, happily cawing back and forth to each other. I saw little bugs in the grass, some as small as ants, others as cool as grasshoppers.
I saw the seasons change as I sat out there on that same curb, day after day after day. I saw every kind of weather possible: sun, rain, fog, clouds, snow, even an elusive rainbow once in a while.
I even pet dozens of dogs. The dogs were what made all of the waiting worthwhile.
I sat happily on this curb for hours of my life. I sang quietly to myself and daydreamed and watched the world go by, imagining the whole time that I could be a bigger part of it. That was one of my favorite moments of the day.
No one paid me any attention. Everyone hurried past me, heads down, staring at their feet or their phones or the road in front of them. High schoolers are oblivious to everything. They never listened to crows or played with bugs or saw rainbows or petted dogs. I pitied them.
But the sitting and waiting soon came to an end. After picking me up one afternoon, my grandma pulled out from the curb right into another car. Minor scrape, no one was hurt. But we decided that pulling into the curb was too dangerous.
The next day, she found a spot in the lower parking lot that never seemed to have anyone in it. She could get to that spot minutes before school ended and I could walk straight to her car from my last class. No more sitting and waiting.
So every day since then, that's what we do. Bell rings, five minutes later I'm in the car on the way home. It is way more efficient than all of that sitting and waiting. After a week of the new routine, I forgot all about the crows and bugs and rainbows and dogs.
But once in a while, I have to stay late at school for more than 10 minutes. My grandma takes my brother home and I call her when I'm ready to be picked up.
That's when I discovered the aforementioned giant window on upper C porch. It looks over my grandma's coveted parking spot and I can see her coming down the street. I wait there instead of on the curb, to stay drier and warmer while I sit and wait.
I found myself again at that window a few days ago, looking down on the parking lot. I was sitting and waiting, singing softly to myself and watching the cars go by when I noticed a big blur right in front of my nose. My eyes focused on the glass in front of me and I saw eight black beady eyes focusing back. Spider!
After I realized that it was on the outside of the rather thick glass, and not about to leap onto my face, I calmed down and started watching it.
It was beautiful, as arachnids are. It crawled along its invisible web, seeming to walk on air. Just as it was ready to pounce on a nearby fly, a bigger spider appeared out of nowhere. Like out of a scene from a nature documentary, the two foes faced off, ready to fight or flee at the first sign of trouble.
And just as things were starting to get Animal Planet just inches away from my face, my grandma pulled around the corner and into her spot. I took one last look at the spiders, willing something to happen, and then when nothing did, I walked to the car.
I bet the bigger spider got the fly. The big one always wins in documentaries.
Sitting there, looking out the window on upper C porch, watching the spiders, I realized that over the months I had become one of the oblivious high schoolers that I had pitied before. I hadn't watched the crows or seen a rainbow in months. The only dogs I ever pet are my own. And the closest thing I got to bug watching was that arachnid faceoff on the other side of the glass on upper C porch.
Coming down the stairs to my grandma's car, I started to notice again. I had made that journey down those stairs and across that street every school day for months and months, but I had never really seen it before.
I saw the ginkgo trees, just beginning to bloom. I felt the concrete steps under my feet. I saw the bushes by the side of the road and saw them brimming with life. I hummed quietly to myself as I walked, and I watched the world go by, imagining the whole time that I could be a bigger part of it.
And for the first time since I stopped the inefficient cold and wet wait by the side of the road, that was my favorite moment of the day.
Kaleigh Henderson is a junior at West Linn High School.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)