I turn in my final calculus exam 20 minutes early. I know that if I don’t, my anxiety will multiply as I feverishly double and triple and quadruple check my answers, and the last bell will feel like a curse instead of a blessing. As it is, I can slip it into the folder on my teacher’s desk, go back to my own, put my head down, and feel all of the tension slide out of my body because I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.

No sense of relief compares to the end of the first semester of a school year. And this time around, my senior year, it’s more than just the halfway point. It means the end of the college application process in favor of the college admissions process. It means a lighter course load and my last season of competitive soccer—maybe ever. It means that in almost exactly six months I’ll be walking across the stage at graduation and then I’ll be out of that building forever if I want to be.

I keep forgetting it’s the end. I’ll wake up at six in the morning tomorrow as usual, bleary-eyed, maybe even make it to the kitchen before I remember that I don’t have to submit myself to that torture anymore. But then I’ll go to the gym and plan sleepovers with friends and completely forget about school for two whole weeks and just bask in it. Right now all of my nights are young. ♦