Probably since I was eleven and preparing to start sixth grade at the middle school, I've loved going back to school in the fall [even though I was always seriously worried about having friends to eat lunch with and was usually sleepless the night before the first day]. I'd start preparing in July, checking the mailbox every afternoon to see if the August issue of Seventeen had come that day; I got pretty excited when the fall J.Crew or Delia's catalog would arrive, too. When they had, I'd spend hours pouring over them. I'd analyze all of the fall trends--if I liked them, if I could pull them off, if they meshed well with the image I wanted to project. I'd make detailed school clothes shopping lists and talk my mom into taking me all over the place to find unique pieces. During the fall of my freshman year of high school, I actually wrote out (in a wire-bound school planner) my outfits for weeks at a time so I wouldn't wear the same outfit too often.
Reflecting on those preparations, it would appear that I really liked clothes (I still do, but since clothes are toward the bottom of the list of things to spend money on, I don't really let myself shop for or buy them unless I really need them) and was a little spoiled. And, I really cared about my identity and what other people thought of me (which I've gotten much, much better with). But school clothes shopping aside, who can resist the spirit of a new school year? Back then, it was just about the only time you could re-create yourself--your style, your friends, the kind of student you were, the activities you did--and get away with it without too much hassle from your peers. There were so many possibilities; a new set of teachers, a new set of kids in your classes, a cute new boy who had just moved to the area... the next year of your life was as clean and promising as a brand new composition notebook.
Six years out of grad school, four years out of teaching, and four years away from my eldest child starting kindergarten, I still get excited for the new school year. Besides giving advice [and reminiscing] to my coworker whose daughter is starting her freshman year of college at my alma mater, there's not really much I can do with that excitement and energy.
Or is there? There is.
During the summer, I get pretty lax about going to church on Sunday; I know I'm not alone in this, and it's okay. Luckily, much like our secular educational system, the church gets ramped up for a new year of learning, too. So this year, I've decided that I will use this annual surge in excitement and energy to be more physically present with my faith community [on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings], and more studious in my pursuit of the Word.
Rally Day is later today (I haven't gone to bed yet), and LG and I will be there, dressed nicely (no new church clothes for us), and ready for the festivities; a pig roast, games, and a bounce house. Later this week we'll start WOW (Word on Wednesday).
The first sentence of this post referenced me starting sixth grade when I was eleven. Besides starting at the middle school, that year also marked my first year riding the school bus [which was kind of a suck-ey experience. My bus stop was the second to last stop on the route, and there were never any seats left; each day, I'd have to quickly decide which two kids looked the most likely to actually scooch over in their seat so I could have an inch or two to hang my butt off of. That, and the bus driver was always closing the door on me] . I'll always remember the first song I heard on the radio on the bus (listen to it below), and wouldn't you know that I heard the song on the radio on my way to work this past Tuesday (the first day of public school in Michigan)?