Thank you Adam Duritz.
Yes, I am about to lyric tweet and go all angsty teen on you.
“The feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls.” – A Long December – Counting Crows
I walked alone into a loud sports bar an hour away from my house to interview someone I had only exchanged emails with a couple times. I was scared to death. I didn’t order anything. It was dark. I didn’t think my microphone would pick up any of our conversation.
Oysters are everywhere. They are ugly, cracked, and asymmetrical. No one seeks out a pet oyster.
Pearls are commonly believed to form when grains of sand settle inside an oyster. However, they are actually formed when invading parasites and viruses from worms enter an oyster. The oyster protects itself from these diseases – possibly oyster STDs, I am not an expert on the topic – by forming a protective shell around the parasite. A pearl. You can even break a natural pearl and white ooze may be secreted, showing its real origin.
Did I contract an oyster STD when I walked into that sports bar that night? If I am going to continue with this metaphor, then yes.
I went on to talk to Kyle Scott, Malvern grad and founder of the Philly sports blog CrossingBroad.com, inside the sports bar that night. We talked for almost an hour and a half – about his job, his experiences, his stories – smiling, laughing, reflecting.
He eventually included the article I wrote about him on CrossingBroad, and to this day I still have that tweet pinned at the top of my Twitter account.
That oyster STD formed into a pearl, just as all oyster STD’s eventually turn into a pearl.
Malvern is a weird place.
It has all the teachers, resources, opportunities, and care that a student could ever want or need. Yet, it does not require or force the students to take advantage of anything. You could slide by with good grades, “participate” in a vast array of extracurriculars, and leave without ever getting what Malvern really has to offer.
That was me freshman year. I got good grades and “participated” in extracurriculars by doing the bare minimum to qualify for an all-important activity credit. While it appeared I was doing fine, I hated Malvern.
I was afraid when walking through the halls. I did not know other people, so why would they care to know me? I did not have that teacher for a class, so why would they care who I was?
I was uncomfortable speaking in front of people. My presentation skills were poor. I had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Kenworthey on the speech and debate team. I spent multiple ninth periods (remember those things? – pearl) in her room giving speeches on incredibly random topics. The subject did not matter, the presentation did.
I would sway side to side when presenting, so Mrs. Kenworthey worked continuously with me to stop. She gave me positive encouragement, a podium to hold onto, and even a happy “don’t you dare do that” look. I improved tremendously over time. -Pearl.
I thought Mrs. Kenworthey was the exception, but she was not. She is simply one of the best of an entire community of great people.
When you come to Malvern, you have to immediately jump into the great community. Everyone cares about you, loves you, and wants to see you grow. Never be afraid of anyone. Say “hi” to every teacher and student when you pass them while walking to class. If you ever do feel afraid of someone, they are the problem, not you. Nothing bad will ever stem from you asking a question or asking to participate in something.
Embrace everything you are a part of both in and out of the classroom.
Did I think writing a three page essay on one (1, single) page of a comic book would be easy, fun, or even possible? No. I was contracting another oyster STD, as I stretched my mind in ways I hadn’t done before. I remain incredibly proud of this paper which explored why Alan Moore used the colors he did on page 258 of V For Vendetta. – Pearl.
At Saint Augustine’s sophomore year, three other students and I entered a small kitchen and were told to make 100 grilled cheeses. This task did not seem fun at the beginning and I was contracting an oyster STD. However, I washed my hands and together with Cam Williams, Steve Van Ommeran and Colin Wills, created an assembly line, and went on to make the best grilled cheeses ever. – Pearl.
During my junior year, I wanted to start a research project. I reached out to my two favorite science teachers and we all agreed I would work to solve the problem of getting clean drinking water for third world countries. I would solve that age-old question by the time I applied for college. Surprisingly, I did not solve the world’s biggest problem. Yet, I learned about potential solutions, science research, and met a lot of great people. – Pearl.
Pearls do not always have to come in the form of an award or good grade. Often times the best pearls come from laughing at one of your worst oyster infections. The larger the parasite, the larger the pearl.
“The feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls” does not have to be true or permanent. Go out, seek your own oysters and form your own pearls.
Next, start to focus on giving pearls back to the community. To form the most amount of pearls, you have to spread oyster STD’s. (Don’t really spread STD’s.)
Help younger students, teachers, parents, and siblings. Remember the people who did things for you and pay it forward by doing the same good things for others. Those really are the best pearls.
Oyster STDs are not real and the parasites within oysters really are not that harmful. But pearls are indeed real and positively infectious.
I burnt a CD a long time ago and included “A Long December” on it for some reason. I have zero idea why I included it, but I did. I started to play it as I made a right turn off of Route 30 every morning to go up the hill to Malvern.
As I turned right onto Ring Road each morning the song would end with the lead singer Adam Duritz stating, “I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself to hold on to these moments as they pass.”
Cherish the pearls and cherish the oyster STD’s.