I Miss School

I never thought I would say that, but I miss school, and the teachers who taught me everything.

School started a month ago, which means fall is on its way. It’ll take longer to reach me than it would if I lived anywhere other than Texas, and it will leave just as quickly as it comes. I envy those of you who get to experience true seasons—crisper temperatures, the changing and falling of leaves, and winter’s first snow. The closest I’ll come to the new season over the next couple of months (or longer) is burning fall-scented candles and putting out decorations. (Then, by the time it’s cool enough out to justify all of that, it’ll be time to decorate for Christmas.)

Maybe that’s why I’ve never identified fall as much with a change in the seasons as with the first few days of school.

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Last year was the first that I didn’t buy any new school supplies or start any classes, and it’s been years since the standard yearly school supply shopping trips with my mom and the agonizing waiting periods to find out my class schedule. So last year I thought it would feel strange to not be doing any of that, but I actually didn’t notice at all. This year, though, felt different, and made me realize just how much I miss that feeling I got whenever school started—that the time of year had finally shifted into something fresh and full of potential.

It’s more than just missing the feeling, though—I miss school. I never thought I would say that after graduating, but here we are.

I miss learning new things, and spending time in classrooms with friends and with all the teachers who made huge differences in my education. I miss having some form of structured curriculum; I have a stack of French textbooks on my desk and no idea where to start. I miss studying in coffeeshops at UH and in the library at B’wood, and Madame’s ADD and Mr. Rozelle’s dry humor.

Graduate school is not off the table for me. But the further from college I am, the further the possibility of ever going back seems to be also.

Even if I went back, it wouldn’t be to any of the teachers I’ve had in the past, even though I believe there’s so much more they could teach me. Mme Sharp and Mr. Rozelle have both retired, I know. So I have to content myself with remembering what they, and the other teachers I’ve had inside and outside the classroom, taught me and how they made a difference for me.

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To my mom, the first teacher I ever had: Thank you for instilling a love of reading in me and for teaching me to value and appreciate books. Thank you for always being my biggest cheerleader by reading everything I write (and for not reading my diaries). Thank you for leaving surprise writing magazines on my bed with Post-It encouragement: “Inspiration—because I believe in you!Mom.”

To Madame Sharp, my high school French teacher: Merci d’avoir partagé ton amour de la France avec moi et tes autres étudiants. Merci de nous avoir encouragé s’amuser pendant en apprenant une nouvelle langue. Merci d’avoir rempli la classe avec ton énergie et ton enthousiasme, et d’aimer tes étudiants autant que t’aimes tout ce qui est français. (Et d’avoir pardonné et corrigé mes beaucoup d’erreurs.)

To Mr. Rozelle, my high school Creative Writing and senior English teacher: Thank you for teaching me everything you know about writing—the tool kit, and the big sandwich, and the guy in Sheboygan, and everything else contained in our class journals that I will never part with. Thank you for first-person “multi-paragraph essays” and “creative final projects”—thank you for teaching us that it’s okay to throw the rules of writing out the window and to see what can happen when we do. Thank you for always reinforcing that I am a writer; one of my favorite memories with you is the tea party book review quiz when you asked me a question that I was able to answer only by thinking like a writer. When I went back to your classroom, four years after leaving it, to interview you for a paper I was writing—thank you for telling me that you’re proud of me.

To Marina, the Assistant Director of Arte Público Press, where I worked while I was in college: Thank you for taking chances on me. Thank you for entrusting me with more responsibility, letting me read manuscripts, encouraging me to ask questions. Thank you for always being honest with me, and for teaching me that I have more potential than I know of.

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I always thought that what I would miss most about the school years of my life would be my friends. But it turns out that what I miss is being in an environment that constantly stimulates and fosters education. I often felt that time spent in school is wasted—and sometimes it is, because many of the current systems of teaching are broken. (Example: standardized testing.) But an education, whether gained from school or from books or from life, is invaluable.

I miss getting my education because I’m grateful for all that it taught me — and all it made me realize I still have yet to learn.

I like to write things that make people uncomfortable.

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