I always both loved and dreaded the beginning of school as a kid. Everything was new again (good: new notebooks, pencils, TrapperKeepers!… bad: not able to sleep late anymore, not having free time, not being sure where my classes would be.) [note: we had exactly ONE hallway at my junior high/high school… I’m not sure exactly why I was terrified, but I was, every year, that I wouldn’t find my classes].
But the most dreaded part of my summer vacation was the first essay that every teacher felt compelled to force down the throats of their new
victims… er… students: the Summer Vacation Essay. Most of the kids would write about big summer vacations their families took, and we didn’t really do that many vacations when we were kids. For one thing, my mom and dad were working their butts off to try to afford the extras for the coming school year–tuition, uniforms for various activities, extra-curricular lessons, etc., and taking off a week, willy-nilly to meander around the country was a luxury we didn’t have very often. Not to mention that vacation with my dad was an exercise in learning just how long you could hold it before you had to go to the bathroom. He was a truck-driver and he viewed any trip as a long-haul trucking expedition, and we were lucky to ever make it out of the back seat as we crossed state line after state line. We went to Oregon one year and I swear to you, I missed all of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska (or was it Colorado)? I think we made it to Wyoming in record time while I became intimately acquainted with the stitching on the back seat and just how many different games you can play with car lint. But by God, we got there. I think the only reason I really remember Wyoming is because we got snowbound there (in May!) and we were forced off the road for a little while as they worked to get the roads reopened.
Instead, we stayed home and I mostly read books. I was usually so worn out from school and all of those extracurricular activities that it took the entire month of June to decompress. I’d go on a reading binge (thank God for libraries) and I’m not sure I even resurfaced until mid-July. And that was probably only because my parents were tired of wondering if their eldest even existed and thought I should give a hand around the house in the chores. This is not the really exciting first impression one wants to make at the beginning of a school year, especially those stupid years they made you read them out loud.
This might just be when I started writing my first real fiction. I would fudge the report a little. Not a lot, not enough to get caught, but I’d embellish the facts or describe the perfect summer if I were actually a human being who liked to do that strange thing of interacting with other actual human beings. (Besides talking on the phone.)
What I really wanted to write was something like this:
This summer, I decided to be a pirate for a little while. I sailed (astronomy! navigation!) the seven seas (geography!) and learned how to hold a blade, how to stab just so in order to kill an opponent (P.E.!) and stole countless fortunes (advanced math!) all by the middle of June. When I was done with that, having reached the pinnacle of all I could earn (business!), I became a treasure hunter (geology! geography again! logic!) and found relics (history! art!) and fell in love (biology!). That was all by the end of June, and as exhausted as I was, I pushed forward and solved a few murders (physics! forensics!) while I ran (P.E.!) from killers (deductive reasoning) intent on destroying the US (history!). Let me tell you, saving the world over and over really wears you out, and so for a while, I decided to be a chef (home ec! chemistry!) and open a restaurant (business! math! communication!), and fall in love again (biology biology hormones biology!). I later became a newscaster (journalism!) and finally, scaled a couple of mountains while I rescued people (science! biology! P.E.!). As you can see, I’m exhausted, and now that you understand that I’ve already studied enough for several lifetimes, I’m sure it’ll be okay with you if I nap in my 7:30 class. I promise to leave the pirate blade at home and not incite my fellow students to mutiny (civics!).
The one over here with her nose in a book instead of listening to you lecture.
It’s about that time where students from K through college are heading back into the classrooms. What did you love about school? What did you dread? Best memory? Worst?
Write your summer essay. Go: