new eyes

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I wonder if modern kids subsist on the same diet of extreme excitement and crushing boredom that I did.

The teetering balance of anticipation to actual happening was never more lopsided than on the first day of a new school year. Eager new outfits and first-day jitters landed with a chalk-dusted thud against a inevitable procession of syllabus reviews. And that was it, we were off.

Like everyone, I’d spend those first days quietly sizing up my teachers.  They would deliver their pre-packaged first impression performance like a grimacing showgirl throwing her legs into a passable can-can on her 40th birthday.

And like the audience in that smoky off-brand cabaret, my interest would start high before settling into resigned, sympathetic respect for those who dedicated their lives to a flatlining occupation. As an ode to their efforts, and to stay awake, I would write my observations in the margins of a leather bound day planner next to my class schedule.  Some were as simple as a freshly sharpened #2 pencil: First Period. Social Studies. Seems like a cool guy. Led Zeppelin poster. Others demonstrated vivid teenage antagonism: Third Period. English Lit. I bet she names her stinky ferrets after Jane Austen characters. 

As the year progressed, reality confirmed or reshaped my snapshot suspicions. Led Zeppelin guy used his good taste in music to cover his raging grading sadism. Ms. English Lit was a disgusting ferret person, sure, but would let us watch movies when she came to class hungover from a “book club” that ran late.

After the newness of a class wore off and before the panic of midterms set in, I reassessed my margin notes.

Gazing at the smeared pencil proclamations I reflected on that first day, thinking back to a time before the seniors pulled the fire alarm and let us flood into a hallway full of mice, before the gym flooded for the second time and made the whole school smell like feet. I read my first impressions and remembered that first day, before I knew the deal.

And if I looked up to the front of the room and squinted, I could see it again. The Led Zeppelin poster taped up next to the pencil sharpener, before the crashing dirigible symbolized my ambition for the class.

I could see through my old new eyes again.

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