Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Last Day of School

I saw the kids today, leaving school around 2:00 PM, wearing their freedom smiles and a lot of silly string. The Alice Cooper classic running through my head..."SCHOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER! SCHOOL'S OUT FOREVER!!!"

I could spot the ones for whom school is, indeed, out forever. The Seniors looked a little bit shell shocked. Most of them have no memory of Life Before School. They've been going almost every day for thirteen years. Many of them carry an awareness that their lives have changed irrevocably, forever, in an instant. Life, as they know it, is over.

Some will, of course, have at least their next four years mapped out, either with more school, or military service. However, there are always those who have been so focused on graduation that they have not given a lot of thought to its aftermath.

I hope those kids can take the summer to just think about it.

Life is about to start.


  1. I was a housebound teen for most of my high-school years. I had to leave home and move 1500 miles away to gain any control over my own life. My first summer of freedom was the year I left home after my freshman year of college. O blessed freedom! I only wish that freedom were the only thing I ever needed.

    I can't think of a high-school summer that was fun or free. I was a haunted child, a little Miss Havisham at 15.

  2. I thought I was trapped! I had parents who had a strong sense of duty and an equally strong urge to impart same to me.

    I was resistant.

    I left home at 17, and returned rarely. From Vancouver Island to Texas is a fair piece, as they say here.

    I did have stolen moments, though, especially in elementary school.

  3. I still envy high schoolers who are indulged by parents, allowed to have a social life, allowed away from the home in the evenings, or--the thought!--given their own car.

    Frankly I think my mother would gladly have smothered me if she thought she could get away with it. She had the personality type for Munchausen by proxy, but an overriding Catholic fear of Hell.

  4. I used to envy kids who had "lives," too. My parents were old enough to be my grandparents, and were compulsive gardeners. And control freaks. I had to account for every minute spent out of their presence. I was not allowed to get a drivers' license, and there is no way that they could have afforded a second car. I got a record album for a graduation present.

    I ran at 17, spending one year in college before going completely off the rails.

  5. Gosh, that is exactly like me. No, you can't get a license, we can't pay for insurance. No, you can't go to that movie. No, you can't go to that party. No, you can't go out with that group of friends. You have to stay home. You have chores to do, and when you're done, there'll be more chores to do.

    One year in college, made a plea to be allowed to work a year, denied, ran away. Mom has never forgiven me. I still have the hostile letter she wrote me in 1972, setting out the terms for my eventual shamed return home, which she saw as inevitable:"by are rules not yours," as it went.

    Needless to say, the rift between my mom and me has never been healed. Same narcissistic bitch at 80 as she was at 40.

  6. I had a baby at 19, almost nine months to the day after I married the guy Mom tried to get me away from. He was relatively harmless, just very young, as was I. He and I placed that baby for adoption, and Mom let loose. From somewhere, I got the courage to tell her, "ENOUGH!" I told her we would no longer have a relationship unless she could promise to never raise the subject again. She never promised, but she never brought it up, either. We did discuss it, eventually, but only because I started to talk about it. We managed to mend fences before she died in 1977.

  7. Eh, maybe that feeling of "blow it all, go for it all" is part of being young and feeling like there's nothing that can go so wrong that your spirit, energy, and desire for a good outcome can't fix. Why, you'll work five jobs if need be! No problem! Youthful energy is like a blowtorch wielded for fun.

    And the feeling that life stretches out in front of you, day by leisurely day. Now it's already Thursday and where has the week gone, and where did the years go.

  8. I don't know why I thought I had to read Gone With The Wind every year, but one thing in it has remained with me: Scarlett's mother Ellen, who had her heart broken and then stiffened her spine, set her lips, and Did Her Duty. She took her youthful energy and used it to seal herself off, shut herself up, and meet society's expectations. She is, to Scarlett and to the author, a saint. We make saints out of women who self-deny, who erase themselves. Any other kind of woman is scorned.