As we introduced ourselves in my memory class on Monday morning, our professor asked us to share a memory. I instantly thought of the first day of school (so fitting). I thought about taking pictures on my front stoop and then standing on the first step of the school bus, looking back at my mom and dad snapping a photo.
I think about a new backpack from Landsend, with my initials embroidered on the front pocket. I remember the slinky feeling of new plastic surrounding my new backpack when my old one wouldn't do anymore. I remember new notebooks (college ruled of course, unless it's math, then wide ruled for equations), pencils (Ticonderoga of course), ten cent two pocket folders, and a new box of colored pencils and markers.
I remember first day of school pictures on my front porch, backpack on and smile from cheek to cheek. I remember walking to the bus stop, at the corner. How it was exciting it was to see the other neighborhood kids. As I got older, the bus picture became less important and the outfits were the main focus. I remember thinking so closely about what I wanted to wear, and how that would make an impression on my classmates, many who had not seen me all summer. I had to make a statement (similar to my fabulous Friday outfits, my 8th grade mindset). I still can see in my head a first day of school picture from high school, where I wore a teal shift with a denim skirt that was probably far too short for me to be wearing. I had curled my hair for the day (it was my hair curling days...aka I wasted so much time curling thick hair that was uncurled by third period).
I feel like I'm so firmly situated in Nostalgia Lane, much of it aided by Facebook's new memories extension. As I thought about my first days of school in my memory class, I saw a picture of me ringing Coe's Victory Bell, circa freshman Hailley. That look of determine (complete with a floral dress with Converse) so perfectly explains me 2010. My first day of schools at college were anti-dramatic, no pictures, just a cute outfit and a jog across the quad to class. Even in grad school, there's a little excitement, but more like a relief that a routine is within my grasp.
What about the first day of school makes our brains hold onto these memories? Is it the newness, the fresh start we get in August (instead of waiting the five months until January and resolutions)? Is it the crisp syllabus papers, the assignments all laid out in a neat formation before the semester gets messy and busy? Is it the fall air lingering in the nighttime, quietly taking away the light nights where the sun doesn't disappear until 9 PM, and bringing a little wind to the morning hours? Or is it something we've created, thrown enough nostalgia into the mix that we are programmed to feel something about the first day?
For me, it's the newness, the freshness, the restart. The refocus, the new textbooks waiting for annotations, and a new schedule. A change of pace (usually needed). I have to wonder what will happen next August as I start a real library land job. Will I still get my needed refresh? Maybe I just need to find a school bus in late August, take the first step, turn away from the bus driver to the people waiting to get on after me, and smile.