"To prove to Dad that I'm not a fool..." Every time I see a commercial about back-to-school shopping or an ad in the paper, I hear Billy Madison singing that song in my head. Back to school.... it really is one of my favorite times of year. Of course I'm sad to see summer end and I'm not the biggest fan of cold weather. But in September, at the beginning of the school year, so many things begin. Another grade, first semester at college, last semester of college, new classes, new activities, etc.
Maybe I'm just proving how much of a nerd I really am, but now that I'm officially out of school, I really miss it. I miss learning (gasp!!!). I might even miss homework. But I always loved the excitement associated with moving forward another grade in high school or moving to a new place to start college or going back to dance classes at Carol Leone's. I got to see my friends again (after all those promises to hang out over the summer that never quite happened as much as you would have liked). Even back-to-school shopping was a thrill. Pencils, notebooks (left-handed spiral bound), paper, Trapper Keepers(!), clothes, shoes, shower caddy and all of the things to fill a dorm room.
I remember all of the places I've been in the start of fall. So ridiculously long ago, when my family got in the car to drive me to Purdue - my first year of college! I moved into THE smallest dorm room of all time in Meredith Hall where I was paired up with the perfect roommate for me. I was probably wearing my lame overalls and sporting my backpack. My sister, Eve, walked down the hall first and knocked on the door. When Sara opened the door, Eve must have panicked and just stared at her. I don't know if Sara thought she was getting a junior-high prodigy roommate, but it broke the ice and started a friendship that I still treasure today. Along with Amy and Jen across the hall, we explored the campus together, joined APO and followed Amy on adventures with ROTC friends. We took the hike over to a far dining hall for chicken fingers on Thursday nights. We dressed up for "pimp and hoe" parties and spent all of our money in the convenience store downstairs while watching ER.
A transfer to Penn State, after hustling with 18 credits of summer classes and one spot in the overflow study lounge! Once I set up my bed-tent, it was quite fun. There I met Kate, who is crazy in a very good way, and some others who were crazy in a bad way. There I met Liz who later was my confidante apartment-mate who listened to me through a very emotional year.
Countless moves in apartments, where I shared my life with friends like Darcy (who always made delicious coffee and made me laugh) and Ilyse (who made me laugh even harder and helped throw the best Halloween party ever.) So many times, I loaded up the car with clothing, groceries, laundry detergent, hangers, those expensive textbooks and picture frames.
So, September always brings back those memories. Now I have children who will very soon start the process. I'll feel conflicted and terrified the first time I put Ayla on a school bus, but I know she'll be entering the same journey. It's good for us to meet new friends and new challenges. Perhaps that's what I really miss. We spend the first half of our lives with constant change - new subjects to learn, new friendships and old friendships falling apart, new goals and new ideas. Then - we get jobs and settle into a career, and all of a sudden you realize that consistency is now the new ideal.
Here is a picture from my first grade class, I dare you to look at it and not feel some kind of wistfulness for that back-to-school feeling! All we had to worry about was whether our lunches were adequately packed with PB&J's and Billy Madison's favorite, Snack Packs.