There is a certain feeling, a certain tone to August: in my mind, it’s colored orange, the sun is warm (but not hot), and the leaves are turning. But the largest part of the mythological Fall season in my mind is the ritual of back to school.
The new books! The new clothes! The turning of the seasons! The football! The notebooks! The pens!
It is, and always has been, one of my favorite times of the year.
I’m an academic; I love school in a way that hinges on the possibilities that education brings. Don’t be fooled by this love, though: I am jaded and angered by the state of our educational system in regards to the money and the costs of attending, and the outright usury of college students in the US. It’s shameful.
My love for education and educational institutions is complicated. It is a love that clings to my old college days, the walks to campus and the trashy apartments; it is tied to my love of Doc Martens and plaid flannel shirts. It is tangled up in my first poetry workshop, the first time that someone recognized something in my writing (“There’s something very interesting happening here” my professor had said).
My love is complicated by the troubles I had in my last semester of undergrad, when I was inexplicably stricken with severe OCD and nearly didn’t finish my BA. My love of college is complicated by the thousands of dollars I owe because I wanted to get a Master’s degree so that I could get a better job; it is complicated by the fact that I’m now an adjunct making very little and receiving zero benefits.
It is fucking complicated. It is ugly.
Graduate school: so lovely, so costly. Memories of accolades and tears at my thesis defense meeting can’t combat the monthly calls and payments to Sallie Mae and others.
As an adjunct, August now means preparing for classes, writing syllabi, meeting new students.
I don’t tell my students all the facets of my tumultuous relationship with college. Shouldn’t they find out for themselves just what college is all about?