Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School

There was always something magical about the first day.  Even though it would get warm by the afternoon, fall was creeping into the morning.  It wasn't so humid; there was a crispness to the air.  It was cool enough to put on a sweater.

I would wake up at 6:30 a.m., sometimes before my alarm, a mixture of excitement and anxiety.  Even though I hadn't been awake before 9:00 a.m. for the past three months, I didn't feel tired. I would pull myself to the bathroom.  It was necessary to turn on the yellow lights in the dimness; the sun wasn't quite full strength yet.  The morning would feel foreign but familiar, like visiting a place you hadn't been to since you were young. 

After dressing and rechecking my neatly organized backpack with new pencils, new binders, and neatly printed tab dividers, I would walk downstairs with my new sneakers in my hand, put them near the door, and go to the kitchen.  My mom would be cooking breakfast, something hearty like eggs and sausage or pancakes with chocolate chips in them.  I would get first dibs because my sisters were never morning people.

When everyone was ready, my mom would force us to take a first day of school picture in front of the house.  We would stand in formation, ordering our German Shepherd to sit at our feet so he could be in the picture too, and force an enthusiastic smile.  After two or three takes (Mom always had to make sure she got a good one), we would walk up the street to the bus stop and wait for the yellow vehicle that had its own set of social rules.

By the end of the year, the routine would get old and tired.  I would hit my snooze button, miss breakfast, and wear old clothes.  But every year, that first Tuesday after Labor Day, it would all start again and somehow still exude the feeling of a fresh new beginning.