Yes, summer is winding down – although tomorrow will be the hottest day here. It must be tough for kids to be in school on such hot days, especially after a so-so summer. Been there, done that – and we did not have air conditioning when I was in school. Now that it’s September, my thoughts are turning almost yearningly toward Autumn: crisp days, cool nights, red and gold leaves crunching underfoot. It is a season of endings and beginnings. As Gretchen Rubin puts it, September is “the other January”.
It has been three decades since my school days ended, but that back-to-school emotional mix remains a sense memory. The bitter-sweet sadness at summer’s end and eager anticipation of new classes, teachers and friends. It was part of the cycle of life, not something we analyzed or planned out.
To tell you the truth, I think about my school days quite often. Every morning I take a bus that passes my elementary school, bringing back memories. The not-so-good ones – like Karl Kearns pulling down my underpants in grade 2; or, getting in trouble for making guinea pig noises in class in grade 4; or, Willie Merhar stabbing me with a pencil in grade 7 (accidentally).
And the warm-and-fuzzy ones. Like going to my great-grandparents’ house for lunch on rainy days. If there were a few clouds in the sky at lunch time, I would stand and hold out my hands until I “felt raindrops”, then I’d run over to their house (one block from the school). My Babicka (great-gran) would feed me Cheerios, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and let me watch The Flintstones (I could see the TV from the kitchen table). My Mom would get mad, especially if the raindrops I felt were orphans – but it was worth it!
High school was spent in two different schools; the first was wonderful – in the neighbourhood here I grew up with kids I knew. The second, at the opposite end of the city, where I was “the new kid” in grade 11, but where I made one new beloved friend.
The Ivy League
Finally! Grade 13 graduation, ‘Good-bye’ to high school and a big ‘Hello!’ to university! The best part was the freedom – lighter schedule with lots of time between classes on some days. And a lovely campus to explore and enjoy. I did appreciate it when I was a student, but I am enjoying it more now.
A couple of weeks ago, on my Friday half-day, I walked up to the U of T campus and strolled the once familiar yet much changed grounds. Here are a few photos:
Sometimes I think – if I knew then what I know now… but who doesn’t think that? My life turned out much differently than my university-student self imagined – in some ways better, in some ways worse. C’est la vie, et la vie est belle!
Wishing you all an enjoyable and lovely autumn, my friends, wherever you are!