Each morning when I awaken, I notice Adam Sandler’s voice crooning in my unconscious: Back to school, back to school.
Each morning he drones a little louder: Back to school, back to school. I try to convince myself it’s just an unfortunate side effect of my recent singleness. After all, of the possible men to haunt my dreams at night, Adam Sandler probably represents the one most equal to my current karmic worth. To prove to Dad I’m not a fool. But deep down I know, it’s not just another of God’s grand jokes, but an actual worry. I hope I don’t get in a fight.
Ooooh back to school, back to school.
If I take a moment to reflect on my school experiences, my brain switches into montage mode. One Adam replaces another and I’m a skinny eight-year-old standing in my childhood kitchen while the refrain of “She Will be Loved” plays in the background. I’m earnestly spelling, while my mom looks on encouragingly, fully convinced that the ability to spell onomatopoeia without a dictionary or spell check was important—not just for the morning spelling test, but for the rest of my existence. After all, if I was not able to correctly provide the literary device associated with such important barnyard sounds as “moo,” “hiss” or “cock-a-doodle-doo” on demand and in writing, what kind of successful adult life could I possibly lead?
Fast forward through middle school, where I stuffed my A+ papers into my desk and feebly claimed, “Oh failed again” as my classmates rolled their eyes. Then onto high school where my best friend’s vastly more popular older brother dubbed me “That weird girl who hangs out in my basement and ruins the curve.” For most of my life, memories of school had to do with, well, school, and my social life was decidedly separate.
Then came undergrad. Recently six of my best friends from college and I managed to get together for a dinner of tapas, sangria and nostalgia. Strangely, not one of us mentioned our senior thesis, student teaching or favorite classes. Instead we remembered the times that made us laugh, and the trouble we had to get ourselves out of. By now, five of us had moved out of our hometowns, three had left the state and one lived in a different country. Yet the shared experience of those four years plowed through the time since graduation and stories followed one after another.
There were the parties, the dates, the sleepovers. The times we decided to dress in 80’s themed outfits, even when we weren’t going to a themed event. The time we split a bottle of NoDoz three ways to stay up and cram, and spent 48 hours in bed sick after we crashed.
There was the time we had tried to return a vibrator to Wal-Mart. Clearly, it had not been purchased there, but we were hoping that there was enough ambiguity between the exact uses of various personal massage items that we could slip this one through the cracks. Wal-Mart did not agree. We left without a refund, more convinced than before that the Waltons were evil.
The stories continued, coming around to one memorable evening involving a staircase and aliases and a redhead and other elements probably not suitable for publication on the internet. “God, that was seven years ago,” someone suddenly claimed.
We all fell silent for a moment. Now I don’t deny it may have been the effect of sangria on mathematical skills for everyone else, but for me it was shock. “No way,” I pointed out. “That would have been our sophomore year in college.”
My friend stared at me. “That was our sophomore year in college.”
Those seven years weighed heavily on me for the rest of the night. After all, here I was going back to school. My shoes were tied tight, but all the strongest memories of my last experience were tied more tightly to having fun than to studying. And although I recognize that my undergrad substitution of fun for studying caused me to miss a Yale-worthy GPA by more than a few hundredths, I would not trade the experiences I had even for New Haven’s cobblestoned promenades, jousting competitions and helpful tree nymphs (Note: I’ve never been to Yale Law and am not responsible for inaccuracies in my description. I’m, personally, unconvinced it even exists). Yet, for all the fun I had, a large part of me is not sure I want to do it again. Those were good times, but maybe I’m due for a return to “that weird girl” of my high school days.
Then again, maybe law school will be different. I picture another dinner seven years from now. After some gentle teasing about 120 hour work weeks and debate over the best cut for a power suit, we too turn to nostalgia. “Remember that time, during 1L, when we were at the Zales cocktail hour and Fitzgerald Marquette Barton the Fifth spilt that ’83 Merlot aaaall over the table when he found out that Lucille Francesca Cunningham thought we were in East Hampton and we were like, ‘No silly, East Hampton is sooo new money.’ My word, that was an absurd evening.”
Pardon me, I think I need to go organize my Fabergé egg collection…