This morning we put our youngest on a plane for Toronto where he’ll finish off his master’s program.
I’ve been trying to avoid the madness that is Staples for the past two weeks.
The nights are nippier, even here in Lotusland. There’s fog in the low spots and dew on the windshields in the morning.
It’s officially fall.
And even though I’m not doing any back-to-school shopping (thank God!), and I won’t spend the next week or two filling out forms and sending in cheques for yet another cost for kids’ activities, there’s still a special feeling about the beginning of September.
Remember when all your pencils were sharpened to the same point, and the smell of the shavings from sharpening them yourself? The scribblers were all neat, no dog-eared corners, no smudges or crossed-out notes, and you were determined that this year you would keep them looking like that all year long.
Even though I was likely to be getting on the bus with almost the exact same group of students as in years past, walk into a classroom with all the same kids I sat with last year, and get a teacher I’d already heard all about from my two older brothers, there was still a sense of possibility.
Maybe someone moved to the area over the summer, and I would make a new friend. Maybe the kids who were mean last year would have had an epiphany over the summer and would be nice this year. Maybe I wouldn’t have to sit in front of the kid on the bus who always pulled my hair or my toque, depending on the season.
More often than not, none of the above came true. If I was lucky, the teacher would be one who didn’t make references to family members (a wise move considering a few of those teachers had taught some of my classmates’ parents, too!). I wouldn’t be compared to cousins or brothers.
It was bad enough just having to be me, in a small town where the reputation you formed in grade one (probably kindergarten now, but they didn’t have it then) was the one you would live with until you died of old age, regardless of what you did or where you moved in your life.
In spite of the inevitable disappointments, year after year fall still raised my expectations. Each year did bring new knowledge, whether of books or human nature, learned relatively easily or through bruises and hurt feelings.
And then the September I started college – where no one knew me or my family. I met all sorts of new people the first morning at registration. When they all decided to go to the pub for the afternoon, I went, too, without mentioning that I hadn’t yet turned 18 and wasn’t really legal.
These were people who would judge me on who I was and what I did, and the impression I made was completely up to me. Some of them are still friends today.
Fall. Possibilities. I can feel them in the air.