The sun is beginning to set on summer. I say that because school started today for my children. This is always something of a sad day for me. I enjoy having the kids around and I tend to fuss over the idea of handing them off to new surroundings.
Perhaps this goes back to my own childhood when I rued the first day of school from the last day of school. I watched it coming as one would a locomotive humming along a good mile or two before taking the bend.
It is an uncomfortable day, for one thing. Kids steam in the still-summer heat, wearing their fresh-from-the-rack outfits, squeaking around in their brand new shoes.
They break out new notebooks and pencils, rulers they will never use and a generous home-packed lunch that will never match that first day’s glory.
It was generally downhill from there.
But, that’s just where I like it.
By the end of September I would suddenly realize that I was settled. My social circle was established. Lunch in the cafeteria now enjoyed a familiar cast of friends at a daily spot that would remain unchanged until June. I’d waded through my teachers’ quirks and humors. My outfits were now sufficiently worn, my binder soft and bulging and compliant.
I have learned that I revel in the ease and comfort of the familiar.
I am drawn to routine. I feel most confident when I know what to expect.
Here’s the problem — that’s not such a great thing when it comes to the writing life. And while many writers would admit to seeking those same soft solitary moments of the mundane, it’s important to step out and experience life outside the confines of time and duty.
For your writing today, get the creative juices flowing by thinking back on your first day of school experiences.
What did they mean to you? Did you look forward to the newness of the first day with excitement and expectation? Did you embrace the school dances and drama? Or did you long for the long, yawning days of summer, where day melted into night and had you slipping in and out of sleep without worry?
Did any habits — good or bad — follow you into adulthood? How have feelings and memories about school impacted your writing today?
Kerri S. Mabee