For me, it’s stiff corduroys and itchy sweaters, probably too hot for summer’s last gasp in early September, but long-ago chosen as the first day’s uniform because they were new. I don’t remember a lot about the first days of elementary school but high school is still fairly fresh.
Even my notebook had that new binder smell. There was that moment of wondering how to carry it all. Did the pencil case go inside the binder? Or did it ride on top and risk sliding away? We didn’t carry backpacks. We held our books and supplies tight to our bodies or, if we were cool, slung at our hips.
My brother and I rode a bus to high school and seating selection was everything. Rocky Swift used to save the other back seat for Bob Barker because they were the oldest boys on the bus. But if Rocky or Bob had a sick day, I would get to ride near the emergency exit. Those were the prime seats, the ones almost (we thought) out of view of the driver whose name I can’t recall. But we never did anything but sit with our backs against the windows and our legs stretched along the pleather upholstery so no one sat with us. The bus was never very full; it wasn’t an issue. We were far from tough.
Our family had moved to a different town in time for me to start grade 8 so it was new school followed by new SCARY school! I spent much of the first day of ninth grade in the bathroom. The seniors would stand at the end of the hall and watch us girls with critical eyes. Those horrible stories of boys rating girls on social media? We had it done to our faces. Or to our butts.
High school contained a lot of horrors mixed with memorable fun. Our stiff cords became soft through repeated washings and the older boys graduated and made room for younger boys at the back of the bus. But I’ll always blame Mr. P. for my life-long need to play catch-up in geography. Linda with the double-Ds got enough extra attention to qualify as an urban planner or climatologist upon graduation. And me? I’m lucky I can find my way home every day!