Monday, September 04, 2006

Once more into the breach

Happy Labor Day, he says from his office computer ...

Well, once more we're at the outset of it all: tomorrow the sluice gates open and students come rushing back onto campus like a loud, goofily clad torrent (some seem to have trickled through a day early -- as I write, one of the classrooms down the hall has been taken over by some sort of orientation group who seem to need to shout very loudly in unison every ten minutes). My lovely quiet campus again becomes what it was designed to be: a big raucous rumpus room, and even while my nascent claustrophobia makes itself known in the sudden press of the crowds, I still do really rather love the energy of it all. My year follows the rhythms of the school year, as it has done since I first went off to kindergarten. Today is New Year's Eve, though my personal celebrations have less to do with champagne than with a massive shopping spree at Staples.

It always makes me think of the opening of Don DeLillo's novel White Noise, which contains about the best description of students' return to university that I've ever read:

I've witnessed this spectacle every September for twenty-one years. It is a brilliant event, invariably. The students greet each other with comic cries and gestures of sodden collapse. Their summer has been bloated with criminal pleasures, as always. The parents stand sun-dazed near their automobiles, seeing images of themselves in every direction. The conscientious suntans. The well-made faces and wry looks. They feel a sense of renewal, of communal recognition. The women crisp and alert, in diet trim, knowing people's names. Their husbands content to measure out the time, distant but ungrudging, accomplished in parenthood, something about them suggesting massive insurance coverage. This assembly of station wagons, as much as anything they might do in the course of the year, more than formal liturgies or laws,, tells the parents they are a collection of the like-minded and the spiritually akin, a people, a nation.

It's good to be back. I've been spending today getting all my ducks in a row for the next few weeks, prepping some lectures and just getting into the classroom head space. Having waded through my first year here, I feel on somewhat more solid footing -- I know now better what to expect, I've made a slew of mistakes that I can now correct (along with making a slew of new ones, undoubtedly), and I'm less harried and more settle. So once more into the breach, indeed.

1 comment:

Iceman said...

Good luck and knock'em dead son!!!!!