The First Day

I’m not teaching tomorrow. I’ve no students packing last-minute school supply purchases into new-smelling bookbags. There are no navy and khaki uniforms laid out for 7am dressing. No lunches packed, no pencils sharpened.

Not yet.

Here in the city, school starts after Labor Day, and tomorrow marks two weeks until that much-anticipated first day. For me, tomorrow is the first day of official teacher prep; two weeks of seminars, meetings, classroom and curriculum preparation.

For some though, tomorrow is the first day.

The first day of kindergarten, for the one who knocks on our first floor door daily, announcing herself through the dark paneled wood before we can even turn the knob. For her, it’ll be the first day of sitting on the rug, finding her spot, befriending twenty other 5-year-olds with the same gusto that she invests in her playing, her inviting, her living, here at home.

For the one who texted me earlier, the one who sat in the back of my suburban student teaching classroom, it will be the first day of 5th grade. I know the classroom where he’ll be, and so does he. He told me tonight, my  phone buzzing intermittently where it sat on my dresser, who moved to Wisconsin, who went to public school, who joined the class. He knows the teacher; a passionate, fiesty woman whose eyes filled with the tears of a love-worn mother when we talked about her sons, who also were in my class.

The one on the other end of the text conversation tells me he’s excited, he’s got new school shirts, he’s excited to see his friends again. In turn, I tell him he’ll look great, he’ll do great; he’ll work hard, he’ll be challenged, but really, he’s ready for this.

In the kitchen here, in this downtown garden apartment, she stands on the other side of the kitchen counter, blue eyes still crystal clear, un-creased by the lines of exhaustion and stress that threaten to settle as the semester stretches into winter. She starts grad school tomorrow; the first class of what will turn, over the years, into a degree in social work, which I have never doubted she will use to change the world. She’s planning on leaving early tomorrow, in case the classroom is hard to find, in case the train runs slow. She’s calm, collected, there in the dimly-lit kitchen, and I wonder as I listen to her how her passion, her loyalty, her determination might be used to change the world, to rebuild broken lives, someday soon.

There are others, I know. Moody students tucked into bed, ready to rise early for their first day of college, their first day as a senior, their first day as a graduate student.

They’ve an exciting day tomorrow.

And here in the quiet, with the ceiling vent blowing its deep, droning hum, it’s comforting, encouraging to think of all those lives, all those days, all the emotions and plans and people that surround me; all moving forward, all taking the next step. And with every transition, every change, every great leap to higher heights, there are challenges, there are heartbreaks and frustrations and terrors.

But with a breath, with a moment- or maybe a year- everything is okay.

And that is a very good thing.



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