This morning, I got up early to drive my sister to school. It’s the first day of 11th grade and her schedule is a total mess, so she wanted to beat the crowds to the counselor’s door.
It’s a strange feeling to drive the old roads on the first day of school. I’m out of high school eleven years now. The building hasn’t changed on the outside, but the traffic through it (and around it!) is not the same traffic that greeted me. It’s a different world there, and I’m a different person.
It’s easier to notice how much things change when you’re in school. Every year is a new start, and a new chance to make your mark. Entering tenth grade (the first year of high school in our district), you’re terrified, but entering eleventh, those fears are gone. Entering twelfth, you’re terrified to leave and anxious to get out all at the same time. College flows the same way; your life is delineated by semeter and roommate and building. You know when each year has passed. You know (if you have time to stop and think about it) how much you’ve changed from one year to the next.
Once that routine is broken, it’s not so easy to tick off the changes. I measure my time by the movement from one cubicle to the next, by the change in supervisors and the change in responsibilities. Without the seasonal terror of a fresh start, one day runs into another, and one year starts to feel much like the next.
I wanted to stop this morning, point out the sites that were important when I was an eleventh grader. Here’s the tennis courts where I got cut from the team. There’s the house where we hung out after school sometimes. There’s where the pay phone I used to call Dad to get a ride home was tucked in at the end of the band hall. There’s where the science teacher lived, there’s where the twins lived, there’s the pizza shop that was a gas station that used to sell smokes to the kids when the truant officer wasn’t around.
But the fact of the matter is that it’s not my junior year, it’s hers. She’s got her own demons to chase and her own memories to forge. And I have trainees to teach, special projects to complete, and a routine to maintain so that each day can continue to blur into the next.