To all the Seniors and Souplantation: I’ll miss you dearly


Eugenie Chang, Managing Editor

When Souplantation closed mid-pandemic, taking with it their baked potato bar and cherry jell-o, I was left with a sudden rush of disappointment and a gift card balance totaling $40.56, never to be used. For me, lunch after Chinese school classes is best remembered by digging into their vanilla and chocolate swirl soft serve, and trips to Tustin Library across the street were an excuse to convince my parents to drive over so I could enjoy clam chowder and chocolate brownie muffins. In a heartbeat, those things did not exist anymore.

The extent of my disappointment can mostly be attributed to the loss of the safe space that those green walls of my local Souplantation harbored. It was my place to explore when needed (where I tried my first bowl of chili actually!), but also my space to retreat into the welcoming arms of comfort foods if I wasn’t in the mood to eat anything but macaroni and New England clam chowder. Souplantation provided a sense of constancy—my salad plate was always lettuce with corn, edamame, croutons and a splash of Caesar dressing—but it also offered me the opportunity to eat novel things to a 10 year old, like red velvet lava cake.

Even now, I really can’t drive by that plaza where Souplantation used to stand without feeling a pang of nostalgia. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are associated with that restaurant, whittling away sunny afternoon hours with my dad. They’re memories tinged with a little bit of sadness knowing that I won’t ever get that time back.

Leaving high school sparks in me a similarly messy concoction of regret, happiness, fondness, uncertainty and hope. In particular, looking back, I am most grateful for the innumerable opportunities I’ve had to branch out and explore my interests. Northwood, like Souplantation, has been my playground and my safe space.

Entering as a freshman, I would have never imagined joining any of the organizations that I’ve come to love for the past four years. Instead, the defining feature of my freshman year was feeling alone and lost, emotions only exacerbated by the isolation of the pandemic. All the things that I felt like encapsulated the “quintessential” high school experience, from Friday night football games to playing music in orchestra, were gone.

But joining ASB in sophomore year was one of many moments where a piece of me finally felt purposeful. ASB has taught me resilience, proper time management and plenty of real-world skills that I’m sure I’ll need in abundance in college. Takeaway: Teamwork and community building is not as easy as it seems. If anything, at least I know I’m really really good at writing professional emails and tying balloons.

As for orchestra, something that I’ve dedicated so many years to since elementary school, I’m constantly reminded of how music really does bring people together and transcend all other barriers each day I rehearse in class. And of course, I can’t forget about Biology Olympiad and Hearts to Heroes, the clubs at Northwood I’ve been blessed to be a part of for so many years. Thank you to all those club boards and members that have let me ramble on at meetings and dedicated their precious lunch periods to joining.

And that brings us to Howler. All the aforementioned organizations have been integral to my Northwood experience, but Howler feels like home. It’s my “Souplantation” inside of the Northwood campus. When I walk into Room 1102, I don’t feel the pressure of needing to fit in, or worry about whether or not anyone will like me for me. Beyond allowing me to explore my interests in journalism and writing, the people I’ve met in Howler have shown me how powerful human connection can be.
There are still moments where the feeling of “I don’t belong here” threaten to send me sprinting in retreat into the warm arms of my favorite Souplantation comfort foods, but those have become less frequent through the years. I’ve come to realize that the things I thought would define my high school experience were, in fact, not the things that I remember the most. Instead, it’s scrambling to finish my anchor on my phone in the bathroom when I really should be in class, laughing at my best friends’ jokes in Howler, sitting in the audience at a Fallout show or cheering at a senior night game.

So how do we say goodbye to the things we once loved and we will continue to cherish? I still don’t have any earth shattering words for you, and I guess that means in many ways I still have a lot in common with my 14-year-old self. But what I can say is if there’s one thing I’ve learned these past four years, it’s that maybe I can stop thinking of goodbye as finality but rather as moving forward.

“Au revoir” translated into English means “goodbye until we meet again.” That phrase always evokes an image of immortality in my mind, and I think it’s a beautiful way of phrasing departure. To be completely honest, I don’t know how many of the people I’ve encountered throughout high school will continue to be physically present in my life in the future—most likely not many. But I’ll continue to feel their presence in the memories both fond and not-so-much, memories that have defined my high school experience and will constantly influence who I am for the years to come. And I think you could call that a sort of eternal meeting in the mind, over and over again.

So, “au revoir” Northwood.