At the end of the year you have filled up with knowledge and at the end of 180 days you've had enough learning, enough of routine, enough, maybe, of friends and teachers you've seen nearly every single day since september fourth. You go off in to the big wide world and don't look back. It's vacation. You're free! You can do anything. You can lie on the couch all day and watch TV, but I prefer to travel. So i go places. Up into meadowy mountains, down the winding streets of Istanbul, across a lake in New Hampshire, over the Adirondacks. Some new experiences, some old. New friends and old friends. A taste of camp life, the taste of salty sweat and the ache of knees as you trudge up a mountain with a pack. The exhilaration of hearing the shouts of protesters through muggy evening air. Cats, everywhere. The cheers of a graduation. A blue herron, out of some immense stroke of luck, landing on the bow of my kayak, staring at me, so close, with mysterious yellow eyes. Songs sung on a hill joyfully. Seeing a shelter for the first time. Frootloops and sausage for dinner. Love. Summer... is a blur. There are many memories. But there's always that transition in the end. The last days of summer go quickly, empty days, with nothing to do but sulk and slowly collect into your possession a new set of school supplies. You think the first day of school will always be the day after tomorrow. But, to your surprise, one day, it's there, and you stand around outside nervously or confidently, talking to much-missed friends or leaning against a wall alone because your only friend from last year went to catholic school. The doors open. It's a clean slate; you've gotta start all over again, inscribe the memoirs of your school existence on a currently blank piece of paper. Blank papers are the worst. Menacing. You don't yet know what to write. The flow hasn't come. There are new jokes to make, friends to gain, respect to earn. School is like a wolf pack. Popularity matters. Being an alpha dog matters. Being weak and without connections does not serve you well. They may not beat you up, but it is a brutality to be alone, unpopular, ignored by your peers. Most people worry about their rank of popularity, they want attention, they want a bigger slice of the pie. Learning, the reason we all go to school, seems to be a side activity. Some people don't get that it's not optional. They don't get that their future depends on it.
I'm in the upper school now. Seventh and eight graders used to look so big to me. Tall, thick, adult-like. Now I'm only one grade from the top and the fifth graders don't even look that small. All my grademates look the same hight to me as they always did. But funnily enough, the eight graders still look huge. Is there some epoch growing spurt that goes on between the 7th and 8th grades? I don't know.
I do know that school's come round again, and it's time to get your shoulders strait and into the habit of working. Time to warm up to a new schedule. Time to build a new record, academically and socially. You've got a new slate. Pay attention in English, and use neat handwriting.