Way back Wednesday
Outside the study hall the next fall, the fall of our senior year, the Nabisco plant baked sweet white bread twice a week. If I sharpened a pencil at the back of the room I could smell the baking bread and the cedar shavings from the pencil. I could see the oaks turning brown on the edge of the hockey field, and see the scoured silver sky above shining a secret, true light into everything, into the black cars and red brick apartment buildings of Shadyside glimpsed beyond the trees. Pretty soon all twenty of us–our class–would be leaving. A core of my classmates had been together since kindergarten. I’d been there eight years. We twenty knew by bored heart the very weave of each other’s socks. I thought, unfairly, of the Polyphemus moth crawling down the school’s driveway. Now we’d go, too.
–Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
This time of year always makes me take a wistful look backward at my schooldays. I have always been an observer, watching other people do things. Sometimes I was taking pictures, sometimes writing about it. Sometimes I was just listening. Whatever.
I was never as cool as Annie Dillard, that’s for sure, never as connected. But we both felt the same desire to get the heck out of Dodge and move on.
Speaking of moving on, I re-read Dillard’s short memoir looking for a quote and I didn’t think it was as great as the first time I read it. Time and age again. Sigh.