Starting Over: The First Day of School

The first day of school is always a revelation for me.
It wreaks of all things new and exciting. And it reminds me that there is always hope.

I've been done with my undergraduate work for longer than I care to admit at this point. Twelve years, in fact, if my math isn't too rusty. Although I've played around with course work since then, I've mostly observed others when it comes to the first day of school. The undergraduates look so fresh after a summer of doing as they please. Sure, some of them spent the summer working the register at Dairy Queen. But, at private universities, like this one, you'll find more students who spent the summer interning for a Fortune 500 Company or laying on lakefront piers perfecting their tans. Usually, I sit and observe. And I watch as that "first day of school" look turns into a squirrely mid-term gaze and then an end-of-semester frenzy.

Unlike other years, this time I'm actually in the frey. And I'm feeling the first day of school again in a new way. I've got the butterflies in the pit of my stomach. And the worry over whether I bought the right books. Most of all, I've got the urge to put on a sweater.

Yes, it's true. For over 25 years now, I have denied every urge I've had to wear a brand new sweater on the first day of school. It's not a particularly difficult decision, since indubitably it is far to warm to wear anything close to a sweater at the end of August. But, I have to talk myself out of it nonetheless. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't.

This year, as I don my unseasonable (and slightly scratchy) sweater, I'm truly filled with hope. Degree or non-degree, I'm back where I belong... in an English department. Smelling the smells of the dusty books. Listening to the sounds of academic prattle. And wondering what the writings of Benjamin Franklin have to do with anything at all...

It's a good thing, this new beginning.

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