Let life come to you: a journey to senior year

Jackson Barnard

Author’s note: this is not your “typical” personal narrative. Instead, I’ve expressed my story by personifying an object that remains significant in my life.

800 W Main St, Louisville, KY: The factory where I was handcrafted and customized from a singular piece of wood into a baseball bat that is endlessly cherished. Emblazoned upon my barrel is the name of my best friend – Jackson Barnard, his birth date, and a Boston Red Sox logo – a team that his father loved – and still loves. Once assembled, I was shipped via UPS to Los Gatos, California, the city where he was born. After being placed in his room, I was surrounded by excitement and continuous, childlike laughter. 

Despite being in California for only 9 months, I observed Jackson clumsily stumble around as he took his first steps. Even though I had to watch from a distance, what I saw was amazing. One year later, after moving to Weston, Florida, I was set in Jackson’s room, but this time, next to his desk. It was here when I identified an unfamiliar voice yelling the word “ball!” That voice was Jackson uttering his first word. As time progressed, I eagerly watched him learn to swim, run, and play team sports. I can vividly recall his first athletic achievement, as he came sprinting into the room with a gold soccer medal bouncing against his navy-blue jersey. 

However, after six years in Florida, the sight of a U-Haul truck indicated that we were moving once again. I quickly noticed Jackson’s dismay, as he was forced to leave the only home that he’d ever known. Tears streamed from his eyes while saying his final goodbyes to friends, teachers, and coaches. I recognized his persistent gummy smile slowly evolve into an empty, apathetic gaze. 

After the 1,400-mile ride, we now lived in Portage, Michigan, and I was in my usual spot next to his desk. I soon realized I was the only thing Jackson felt comfortable sharing information with. Whether it was school crushes, unnecessary assignments, or elementary school drama, I was the first one to be told. While transitioning into middle school, Jackson grew nervous about the idea of having to challenge himself, and sixth-grade honors math was especially difficult. He would sit in his room, flustered and desperate for an answer. One night, Jackson was on the verge of tears trying to solve a math problem. In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, he picked me up while simultaneously pacing around the room and discussing a solution. My presence in his hands seemingly calmed him, allowing for a composed re-assessment of the question. From then on, whenever Jackson endured any sort of difficulty, he would look to me for inspiration and serenity. Throughout the following 4 years, I never anticipated the number of times he would need me. 

High school became worse for Jackson. He was met with rigorous courses, excessive homework, and the challenge of balancing those with his life outside of school. There were many nights when Jackson would have to pick me up in hopes of stopping a complete breakdown. At times, he would even swing me to help release his frustrations. A phrase I heard enough times to break my heart was, “I can’t make it through junior year.” In response, I managed to offer him a different perspective. “Let life come to you. Your concern about the future only adds to your anxiety.” This advice that I transferred to him through the knob of my handle propelled Jackson into a new way of thinking; making the bond between us increasingly stronger. 

It’s now 2022, and Jackson’s been practically glued to his computer. He picks me up every so often but has only made an occasional grunt or sigh. Watching him now, as he aggressively pounds the backspace key more times than not, I wonder: what could he possibly be writing about?