Every store I enter is jam-packed with back-to-school supplies. Although the temperature remains toasty, we are losing daylight at an alarming rate, and the leisurely weeknight barbeques of July have become a race against time to finish before it’s too dark to see what you’re eating. Labor Day weekend has passed – the party’s officially over.
For children everywhere, September brings the promise of starting over – the new school year literally offers a blank page in a brand-new notebook. Yet, despite being a good student, I never felt that excitement about going back to school. Instead, I experienced a mix of equal parts melancholy and anxiety. The night before the first day of school, my clothing and supplies all laid out, I would go to bed early but have trouble falling asleep. “The party’s over…it’s time to go back to school.”
I never minded the actual school work – it was the getting up so early and the restrictive structure of the Monday-through-Friday routine that was the problem. See the irony here? What I didn’t like about school is exactly what most of the workforce, myself included, complain about on a daily basis.
A friend of mine talks about having the “Sunday night blues.” She says it coincides with the television show “60 Minutes.” The moment she sees the stopwatch and hears the ticking sound of the passage of time, she becomes angst-ridden. I don’t watch “60 Minutes,” but the emotions I experienced the night before the first day of school remain so vivid, and continue to rise up in me every Sunday night.
Nothing can compare to the carefree feeling of the childhood summer vacation. As working adults, we take off for a week or two in summer to recharge our batteries. But the bottom line: whether you’re a kid going back to school or a working adult, vacation is fleeting.
As my friends and co-workers talk about getting their children ready to go back to school, I can’t shake the image of school supplies, and I remember the black and white composition books of my own school days. It suddenly seems that it’s not so much about the first day of school, or about mourning the end of summer, or even about the daily grind, as it is about the chance to start over, fresh. It’s about that blank page in a brand-new notebook.