I've been out of school for a considerable period, but this time of year still has a certain undertone of excitement and anticipation. January 1 may begin a new year, but I think most of us are programmed to still think of the start of school as the initiation of a new year.
Back in the "olden days" when I marched down the street to Woodlawn Elementary School, we all wore stiff new shoes and the girls usually had new wool skirts and sweaters to show off. Needless to say, given our typical September weather wool was not in order. Back then it was dresses and skirts for the girls, and boys wore shirts tucked in. No shorts and flipflops.
What hasn't changed, I'm sure, is the smell of disinfectant and the gleam of freshly polished floors. Blackboards -- or more likely now, white write-on boards -- scrubbed clean of any scribbles from the previous school year. Immaculate lockers that don't yet have the forgotten banana moldering in dark recesses.
I doubt the expressions have changed much, either. Apprehension for first-time students or the "new kid" in class. Joy at reuniting with friends not seen over the summer. Curiosity about home room classmates and how the hierarchy will play out. And dread or delight regarding the teacher with whom the student will spend the year.
Interesting how those emotions follow us through life. Apprehension over a first or new job, curiosity about workplace politics, dread or delight over the specified supervisor.
Helping Em move into her dorm was a stroll down memory lane. Tromping up and down stairs with loads of gear. The confused pile to be sorted out before one could be truly settled into the room. Parents and siblings everywhere. The freshman turmoil --"Free at last!" versus "I'm alone with strangers!" The shrieks of joy or the cool "Dude" as returning students spy friends. Conflicting rumors about open or closed campus facilities. Comparing course schedules. And so forth.
And in a week or two, it will all be routine. Another "new year" underway and the countdown to summer begun.