Last Day of School

This morning I was driving to Trader Joe’s answering questions about No Parking signs, wondering if I’d been giving Simon too many orange vegetables, worrying that he’d fall asleep in the car and think that was his morning nap and then not one minute of a double nap would happen.

We were behind a school bus and Thea told me “can’t see those childrens on that bus,” and I said maybe we’d see some kids waiting at the ends of their driveways for the bus to come.

It’s the last day of school here in town, and I thought about what it felt to wait for the bus on the last day of school. In elementary school, middle school, and in high school when kids are giddy on the manufactured adulthood of taking exams and actually no one is waiting for the bus.

We drove past mailboxes with graduation balloons. And time lurched forward and backwards at once. I was eight headed to field day, thirteen wondering who’d write a full page in my yearbook, seventeen showing up at graduation with wet hair and Birkenstocks. I was twenty-four, an exhausted first year teacher, giddy for summer. I was the mom of a toddler and an infant. And then quite clearly I was five, ten, fifteen years in the future. In the amount of time since I graduated from college, I’ll have a high school senior.

There are a few moments when I remember becoming abruptly aware of time. When I was four, a sixth grade neighbor taught me the word “Bravo.” She was so grown up and poised. In fifth grade, the eighth graders were banned from hugging at school because it was happening too much, too suggestively. When I was a junior in high school, swinging my car keys with forced casualness, I was as old as the captains of my cross country team had been when I was a freshman.

I’ll be thirty five at the end of the summer, but can still feel the dappled shade of the oak trees on my childhood street as the sixth grader clapped and said “Bravo!” Can still feel the uncomfortable but exiting confusion over hugging eighth graders, the novel thrill of being a person who carried a set of car keys. Now I’m a person with two babies in the back seat.