Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Winding Down the School Year

Tonight, I went to the high school for a band booster club meeting.  The parking lot was silent and only held a few cars. The hallway was completely empty when I walked into the building.  It was a strange feeling to walk into the building this late in the school year & see NO ONE.  While it was 7:00pm there seems to always be a volleyball game, a theater practice, some sort of meeting, a janitor walking down the hall, a teacher who stayed late to grade papers or put up a new bulletin board....something!  Maybe things changed 5 minutes later, but for those few moments that I was standing there tonight, it was empty and silent.

I stood there for a minute, taking in the smells of the empty school.  I know it's not the same for everyone, but smells carry such strong memories for me & can stir emotions.  Then again, I'm a very sensory-focused person, so maybe I'm the only crazy person who can get misty at the scent of Deep Woods scented OFF bug repellant (because it reminds me of church camp when I was a kid.)  I stood there, breathing deeply all those first days of school when I was a kid.  I could almost feel the pink rubber erasers between my fingers, the weight of the bag of school supplies under my arm, the tightness of the new shoes saved just for the first day.  I took just a brief moment to stand there & take it all in.  The meeting was set to start soon and I knew someone would walk in and I'd look like a loon standing in the middle of the hallway, sniffing the open space with my eyes shut.  I could explain that I was enjoying some fond memories, but I don't think they would understand. I'm afraid they'd expect me to burst into song & start spinning with my arms outstretched, so I went into the meeting.

The truth is, I never stepped foot inside this particular school when I was a kid.  It wasn't built until 10 or 12 years after I graduated high school.  I've only been to this school with Savannah.  But somehow, it holds all the same smells as every school I ever went to.  Maybe it's the janitorial supplies that I get that nostalgic high from.  Maybe it's some sort of school-grade floor wax that no one else uses.  Perhaps there is a secret air freshener spray that is fogged into the air vents at night so that the schools all maintain the same smell.  I don't know what it is, but there was a distinct mixture of cafeteria food, school supplies and something else I can't quite place.  Excitement, maybe?  Could that have a scent that is especially pungent at this point in the year when the kids are aching to run out the school doors & frolic in the sunshine for 3 months?

As I sat through the meeting tonight, it struck me that we are "this close" to winding down this year.  I've had a countdown of days til summer going on my computer for weeks now.  I know that today is May 1st.  But hearing the new officers for next year being voted in, teasing the outgoing president about circling around her & holding hands to sing Kum-bah-ya (or however you spell that), discussing majorette tryouts and incoming elementary & junior high kids, finalizing plans for the band's end of the year concert....it made it a little more real.

In a few weeks, I will have a junior, a junior higher and a middle schooler.  How quickly they've slipped from toddlers to tweens to teenagers.  Oh sweet Jesus, slow down this carousel...it's happening too fast.  I'm not ready to walk down the aisle & welcome grandkids, but I suspect it will happen faster than I can blink an eye!

I'm such a sap for 'firsts' & 'lasts'.  This time of year certainly brings that out in me.  Maybe that's why I seem to have a nose that can sniff out the first day of Kindergarten in the middle of a high school hallway in May.

Enjoy these last few weeks of school, friends.  Take the time to stop & smell the roses.  (or at least the janitorial supplies)

1 comment:

Kristi said...

What a great read, you had me in tears in the school hallway too! I too have a scent triggered memeory! We are experiencing Kenzie's last year of elementary school as well, and this mom, just isn't ready.