Friday, September 7, 2012

School Daze

Today, for probably the last time ever, Matt went back to school—in the one-building, ship-o'-learning, sense. That kindergartener who brought home over-glued Cheerios on construction paper is now a senior in high school, Class of 2013. I swear I watched him carefully, minute to minute, day to day, year to year, and still don't know how he got from one to the other. I think it happens at night; and in the morning this newer model replaces the memory of the old one.

Coincidentally, I received an email this morning from Freda Nelson Evans, faithful custodian of my own high school tenure in El Paso, Texas, reminding me of the upcoming fiftieth reunion—or better yet, quinquagenary—of the Class of 1966, in four years.

Got me thinking about school, this alternate universe we have access to for a certain number of years. When it's active, it's awkward, mysterious, and occasionally exciting. We upload the accumulated knowledge of the human race, find much of it useless and boring, but some of it gets through and fertilizes us, fills in our still sketchy template. As well as the social thing: playing nice; working well with others. Life 101.

With Matt, the parts that I know got through are writing and movies and certain books, like The Great Gatsby, and Siddhartha. It's also where he developed a yen for filmmaking. What use the calculus, Latin, Chemistry, and European History will have remains to be seen. Crossword puzzle answers; conversation filler; maybe some kind of mental mortar that holds future ideas together. 

Anyway, after this year high school will probably become a general slurry of life lived, as it does for most of us, as it already has for him with middle school and grade school. Those alternate universes become addresses that we still can technically claim as alumni, but there's always a feeling of ringing the doorbell of a house you once lived in and the current owner looks at you, polite but guarded, suspecting you're really a thief looking to case the joint. "This is our place now," she says, half-obscured behind the screen door. "You don't belong here anymore. Go away. Shoo."

But maybe Freda Nelson Evans will come to your rescue, shouldering Mrs. Metaphor aside and opening the door wide. Then you'll have to decide whether it's a museum worth visiting or something more relevant, like fodder for a screenplay or a blog post.

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