21 years ago

I took off on my bike with mixed feelings. Frustrated that the summer vacation was over so quickly again and the good lazy life was over for the next 10 months, but also thrilled & excited & nervous for this new start. What would happen, who would be in my class, how many would be old school mates and how many new faces would be there? Who would be our teachers?

I peddled downtown on the road I had so often taken on my way to the music academy but now I'd turn off a little sooner...into the gate by the river where I had seen my sister turn off on her bike in the past when I was sitting in my parent's car. But now I no longer took my ride with my parents to the elementary school where my mom was teaching: today I was starting high school.

The school wasn't entirely unfamiliar since it was housed in the same block as the elementary school and on some rare occasions such as school parties or sporting day or ....we had been on the high school terrains. On some moments that we felt brave & rebellious we had managed to sneak out of the elementary school's playground, through the door & hallway leading to the high schools playground....only to feel being stared at in an unknown environment, clearly not belonging there and quickly running back with a pounding heart.

I crossed the street together with some other students via the bike entrance and turned off to the big L-shaped covered bike parking around the volleyball court where at night some nuns were seen riding slow bike circles as their workout.
So many bike racks....which one to choose and how would I ever find my bike again. Most kids seemed to know exactly where to place theirs, dropped it and walked onwards to the playground. I quickly put mine somewhere and memorized the rack number for tonight. I was certain it was obvious to everyone it was the first time I was there...but I had no other choice but to follow everybody else.

Fortunately on the playground I quickly found some of my former classmates trouping together in a little circle in the middle, looking around now and then to detect another familiar face and to wave them close by into a growing circle of familiarness in this new world.

One the school bell rang, most of the students lined up in rows in front of the building and all the newbies were painfully remaining in some cluttered circles looking around where to go. The new principle came into the door and took the microphone to welcome us all. All 1st years were asked to go to the gym where we were one by one call to follow our assigned class teacher to our home room.

In the next 2 ours we got assigned our seat in the class which turned out to be one of the "aquarium" classes giving out at the playground. The students coming by bike were assigned a fixed a bike parking in the range reserved for our class, ...the agenda's in which we'd need every hours subject for the next 6 years were distributed , ... Before we knew it 3rd hour had started and our Latin teacher walked in to teach us our first vocabulary list after which she promptly announced our first test for the next day.

And from then on we were on a roll, from hour to hour, from day to day until I was familiar with every corner of the school and all teachers and I would recognize the insecurity of the 1st years who were hesitating in the bike parking on Sept 1 in the next years.


Brian Miller said…
what a wonderfully nostalgic piece...21 years...how time flies...
rozebril said…
Schoon beschreven, bij mij was het wel iets strasserender, die eerste dag in het middelbaar. Ik was de enige van mijn dorp en kende er niemand. Gelukkig was dat na het eerste uurtje in de klas al in orde, maar toch, zo die speelplaats opstappen en niemand om bij te gaan staan, dat herinner ik mij nog heel levendig.

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