Today is the official first day of classes at UNC, and, as usual, I’m feeling a bit wistful because of it. This will be the third fall that I’m not going back to teach, so you’d think I’d be used to it, but as I’ve been on an academic schedule for more of my life than not (faculty brat, then a college student myself, then an instructor) I guess this is to be expected. Truth be told, I don’t miss office hours, or endless paperwork, or grading papers. But I do ALWAYS miss that first day, when I’d go walking in with my fresh roll sheet and yellow legal pad and pens and textbook and index cards, eager to meet whoever was behind the door to my classroom, waiting for me.
The first day everyone was always so nervous: I could never actually tell how a group would actually be by that first impression, as it always took a few classes for people to warm up. Plus, I was always concentrating on being a little more formal myself, as I learned quickly when I first started teaching that you can go in tough and soften up, but never go in all warm and fuzzy and then try to crack the whip. (My first few semesters, I wanted desperately to be liked by my students, which led to total disaster. I got taken every which way imaginable, it was pathetic. But I digress.) Above all, though, that first day was all about possibilities, for both me and my students. You never could tell who would blow you away with their writing, or be the best critic in the class, or become the person you were still friends with, years later. (Hi, Courtney and Adam and Jenny!) Maybe that’s what I miss, then, really. That sense of potential, a new start, just as the summer is ending. Then again, with the baby due soon soon soon, I think I actually have that in spades this year, more than ever before. I have no idea what this year will be like. Talk about potential.
I do miss the school supplies, though. Maybe I’ll go buy some pens today, just for old times sake?