I rounded the corner that leads to my school this morning and saw a thick layer of fog covering the football field like a coalition of ghosts had chosen to have an early meeting near the fifty-yard line. On any other morning, I might have reacted simply to the aesthetic of it all – I’ve always been perversely drawn to things that appear generically spooky – but today, on this first day of a new school year, all I could see in those foggy shadows was a collection of days and people that have already gone by.
I’m not sure that I will ever be a person for whom beginnings won’t immediately cause me to connote the haunting imagery of endings but it’s not all bad. Gone are the days when I felt anxious and chilly-tummy-terrified before the first day of school. I mean, I actually slept last night without having even one nightmare about arriving at school braless (which actually happened once, but thankfully it was a chilly day). The only part of my first-day outfit that I really put a great deal of thought into was my shoes. (They’re these insane new strappy, studded booties and I love them, though I will probably have to amputate a toe or three by day’s end.) But what remains in the location where I used to store my pre-school anxiety is a level of awareness of how much has changed – and how much I have changed. The changes aren’t necessarily negative though I guess maybe they’re not fully positive either. They just are, and so that means that I better start understanding them.