Going Back to Middle School as a Grown-Up

Memorial Weekend is also the town homecoming festival where I come from. It is a tradition to bundle the kids in the car and drive three hours and stay for the weekend. Traditionally, we’d leave on Saturday morning to avoid an extra night in a hotel. The last few years, however, I’ve opted to go on Friday since my kids have been out of school that day. This year, my older daughter has her first job and it started just before the weekend. She got a lot of weekend hours, and decided to stay behind and work. It was our first trip without her. My son came home so that he could come along, so it was just three of us this year.

After checking into our hotel, we drove to town and met up with my sister, nephew, and dad. It was my younger daughter’s birthday, so she opened a few presents before we split up. My sister and I headed over to what we think of as the Middle School for a 100 year anniversary of the school, although much of it was built as under the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in 1939. My sister attended the school from fifth through eighth grade and my other sister and I attended sixth through eighth grade since fifth had been moved back to the elementary school by then. I knew that my parents attended the school when the building was Kindergarten through twelfth grade, so I’m not sure why I was so surprised to find that they’d re-purposed it again and it was now the Intermediate School for fourth through sixth grades.

We had sixth grade guide who, with much seriousness and poise, gave us a tour. Well, as soon as she could tell us that we were passing the art room, we couldn’t help remarking, hey, that was the shop! I asked the guide if there were still a shop, and she said, maybe in the gym (thinking I was referring to a retail shop for the occasion). The home economics room and school office were gone too, making way for more classrooms. By rearranging things, a few classrooms had been turned into offices for various things such as special needs and gifted education.

The school lunch room, place of much middle school drama, was the same. It seemed smaller though and less worthy. A friend late remarked that it was turned into a wrestling room after school, sparking a latent memory. I wandered into the theater and up onto the stage. As a high school student I had worked the stage lights from the light cage…the cage was gone. Off stage more memories flooded back of being in a play and preparing in the music room, then coming up the back way the wings to await an entrance. Back in the gym, I saw that the dreaded climbing rope was gone. Looking up to the ceiling I realized that it was not smaller than in my memory…that really would have been a thirty-foot climb to reach the metal I-beams over head. I think I made it once, to impress a boy who was then nowhere in sight as I touched the beam and shakily made my way back down.

I found my eighth grade photo in a yearbook and saw that I still had glasses. Contacts must have been after picture day. What memories, mostly forgotten! My sister and I, not knowing the current restaurant situation, checked Urban Spoon and were soon dining on sushi at a sidewalk table with no drink service. The menu was limited, but the food was divine. After that “snack” we walked a few blocks to a bistro/bar new to us and had a glass of wine before the “all class reunion” where we rejoined our dad and tried to find some former classmates.

All-and-all it was a lovely start to the weekend. I gathered my children back up (my son, meanwhile had won a pizza eating contest) and we went back to our hotel to rest up for the events ahead!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in memories of youth!



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