First days are the best days

Fall is here. I knew it this morning at the sight of hopeful students loitering around the bus stop. Backpacks slung over their shoulders, crisp jeans fitting a little too well, they stood out like Shiva at a pug meet-up. I loved the first day of school. Next to Christmas Eve, it was my favourite day of the year. There was so much to believe in on a first day. Anything was possible. First days were fresh and clean, with no mistakes in them.  On first days, I felt confident, capable, and courageous. The pang of this memory hits me every autumn when the students return to class. It isn’t jealousy; at least, it isn’t all jealousy. I feel for them, sense their nervousness and excitement beneath their facades of boredom and ennui. As uncomfortable as such ambiguity is, it is also thrilling. They don’t know what will be hitting them next but they are ready to learn. It won’t be long before the reality of midterms and papers and annoying lab partners slam into them. Within a week or so their eager anticipation will turn into frustrated exhaustion. I try to remember this as I battle the curl of envy in my stomach. School means late nights and ink stains, dull assignments and obnoxious classmates who dominate the professor’s time with their unrelated questions. If only every day could be a first day.