Monday, June 6, 2011


As the school year wraps, I'm keenly aware of the merging presence of both the end and the beginning. The end of the school year and the beginning of the summer, mingling in the same space.

Yesterday, I walked the halls of Abby's elementary school.

What is it about the palpable, tangible energy during those last school days? The students and teachers all wear a mix of exhaustion and anticipatory joy on their faces. As my feet moved me down the hall, I recalled organizing all the shiny, crisp school supplies into Abby's backpack for the first day of school. Now, I peeked into classrooms and saw children haphazardly shoving old, worn folders, well-loved crayons and papers into their packs.

I inhaled the school unique essence of school: tempera paint, paper reams, glue and sweaty gym shoes. The scent of freshly-cut grass wafted in through the open windows. Blank hall walls, which just last week proudly displayed students' work, now looked so stark, punctuated with the occasional ripped corner of some well-thought-out project, pierced with one stalwart thumbtack. I could almost hear the scuffed, well-traveled floors saying, I thought they'd never leave... while simultaneously trying to commit the kids' beloved footsteps and hum to memory. As if they could sense the impending, inevitable solemn quiet of summer and were already yearning for the freshness of fall. I know how they feel.

Endings end and beginnings really begin, meshing and paralleling each other. I suspect the edges are always gray, frayed and ambiguous. Like those hallowed halls, like those worn school supplies. Like me. Simultaneously yearning for quiet and embracing the noise.

A repost from June 2010.


Lindsey said...

Ah yes ... you evoke the smells and feelings and emotions of this time of year beautifully ... it's sad for me, mostly, as you know. xox

Anonymous said...

I had a love hate relationship with the end of the year, still do frankly. Growing up it meant a long summer spent in daycare, and time away from my friends. This year though, I'm really for my little guy to have the quiet of the summer season. It's been a big year for him, and for all of us really.

Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri said...

You describe the tug and pull so elegantly Denise. I experienced the same feelings just a month ago. I feel the happiness of my daughter reaching a milestone, but also sense a lingering sadness that we will never revisit the past.

pamela said...

this is like poetry. I was right there in those halls. You wrote of things I didn't even know I felt. Beautiful.

Dana Udall-Weiner said...

These images are vivid and familiar. And there is something about schools--and their smells--that evokes the passage of time more than anything else.