(I was 18, actually.)

It’s the High School Variety Show. I’m an emcee – I got in without audition, as I was the only guy to try out. They gave me a bit of stage makeup, but really it’s just hanging around backstage waiting for my turn to announce the next act.

The room is the men’s dressing room – it’s white paint, two long counters facing wall-length mirrors and lights. Standard school floor tile, tan. The room is cold, to counter the heavy layers of most costumes. I’m alone – everyone else is onstage or backstage. I’m facing the mirror, with my blue knit sweater and slacks, and I’m brushing a tangle of curly hair that still has a few years before it straightens out.

The strains of Seventeen by Winger are playing on the stereo system for the dressing rooms. The age, and the moment, are indelible in my mind for the one thought I had.

“This is the last year I’m in high school. After this, the world turns from nerf to steel. I’ll never be here, in this time, again. For better or worse, it never comes back.”

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