By Carrie Jacobson
It’s the start of school, and though our daughter is long grown, and school – even teaching school – is a distant memory for me, the academic cycle tugs at me, in a way that feels stronger than the seasons or the calendar year or the salty pull of the moon.
As August rolls into September, I feel a deep yearning, a rich need to start something, or at the very least, to examine my path and test it, see if it needs adjusting or rejiggering, see if it needs an entirely fresh direction.
I want to shrug off silly, sunny, summer things and get serious. Start something that matters.
I remember the thrill of new clothes, and how shoes felt tight and hard after a long, barefoot summer. I remember the smell of textbooks, and watching my mother make covers for them from brown paper grocery bags. I remember the promise that empty notebooks held, how delicious it was to start writing in them, how quickly my notes messed up that beautiful blankness. I remember the excitement of seeing old friends, and meeting new kids, and encountering different teachers and different subjects, and I remember the pure purpose of school. Its dedicated direction.
We were there to learn, and that was it. We had recess, and phys ed, but by and large, there were no after-school activities, no sports programs, no college-directed debate clubs or physics circles. We went to school, we read, we wrote, we studied math, we did art, and then we went home, and ran in the warm September days with all the other kids.
Our youngest grandchild began sixth grade today; my nieces and nephews started a variety of grades. One among them looked forward to school starting, the way I always did. For the rest, emotions ran the gamut from apprehension to tolerance to downright balking.
And I feel sorry for them. For me, the start of school was the best time of the year, and I know how lucky I am to have learned to love the richness and the joy of learning.