August always felt like a Sunday evening for Mia. It’s like having free time to do whatever you want before Monday, but still can’t help thinking about school. And so was August. Though her fun lasted for exactly 24 days every year. Why 24? Because on August 24th was her birthday, which always felt like the grand finale of summer. Each year her friends and family were throwing her an amazing party, which was starting fun, and was ending in sad notes. Cause the next milestone was to be school. Which she didn’t really like. Well, to be more precise, she liked it, but not as much as summer. In summers she had freedom, she had fun, lots of playing and wandering around with friends, lots of family trips, delicious fruits, ice cream and lemonades. And school always felt like a dark place especially after holidays. Though she kinda enjoyed this “back to school” season, when everyone was getting ready for new year, having the last bits and pieces done, buying new dresses, shoes and bags in order to look magnificent on the Labor day. But she preferred the stationary shopping more, the hunt for the perfect notebooks, so that they’d actually represent her personality, and the most crucial fact was that no one else in class should have the same notebook, that would be a total disaster. She also missed her friend Lucy, whom she hadn’t seen for whole holidays, as she was away. So overall, she was sad about summer ending, but also excited for the new chapter.
On August 31, she and her other friend, who lived nearby, but was attending a different school, had a tradition of going to the nearest cafe, which was their special place. They’d complain and whine about the most amazing summer ending, and make the most serious promises and oaths to do their daily homework very quickly and go out for a walk every day. A promise they made each year, but failed to keep after a few weeks, because that’s just the way all teenagers were, suffering from a ton of homework, but still somehow procrastinating the whole day. The last day of summer was the hardest one. All the memories of the past three months seemed to be much greater to just forget about them.
Finally the long awaited day came round. September 1st. It’s strange how one day could turn the whole world upside down. Even the weather seemed to change in those 24 hours. From unbearable hot to mild warm, getting the last sun kisses to the trees, which were slowly getting into bright fall colors. The morning crisp and the light breeze were also reminding of upcoming cold days.
Usually she’d meet her friend Lucy in a small alley which was leading to school. This was their favorite place with lots of trees and benches to sit and discuss the latest gossips. But today was special, so instead her friend came over to have a little reunion breakfast together. Later they met the rest of the gang in front of the little fountain around the corner of school. All of them were so happy to see each other again, that they even forgot about being sad and depressed. The first day was always the best one. Along with the last day. They always had a little concert of the school choir, lots of balloons and “welcome to school” decorations. It was the day of meeting new teachers, and new students who just transferred from other schools. This always brought big excitement to everyone, especially when they hoped to have the biology teacher changed, as he was always super strict and unfair. Coming home after lessons was another kind of fun. She and Lucy would buy lots of junk food, talk and laugh, even go swinging in their favorite alley. They would also go to each other’s houses to do homework or just goof around, but not today. Today they had their big portion of entertainment and were pretty tired.
She went home, happy about not having lessons for the next few days, as they didn’t get their textbooks yet. In the second week the teachers would be extra harsh on them, and assign too much homework in order not to fall behind from the schedule, but for now it seemed too far away to worry about. Instead she went to her room and started to look through her school album with all the photos and little notes she made. Here she was, on the first school play, dressed as a butterfly. Here she got her first A+. Here was the first photo with her best friend. The first excursion with the class. Autumn harvest festival. Christmas party. Her bird nest that she made during the special master class. So many great memories connected with school. For the first time ever she felt that she was going to miss this place after graduation. Next year she was going to a private high school, far from her home, away from all her friends. That’s when she realized and felt thankful for everything she had. And she had a lot to remember and be grateful for.
The middle school of their town was very close, so she didn’t have to take the school bus, which she hated. She really loved walking through the alley to the school, cause it was really beautiful at every season. With pretty yellow and orange leaves during autumn. The leaves would fall then and it’d be the time for jumping in the crunchy leaves and playing with them. Then it’d snow and the world would look like an actual winter wonderland. She and Lucy would wake up earlier on these days to enjoy the beauty of the alley without too many people passing by and after lessons it was time to play snowballs or have a competition of building up the best snowman. In spring the whole alley would be covered in cherry blossoms and would look like a fairy tale, and smell just amazing. This was her favorite part of the day, walking through the alley, as it always helped her to refresh her thoughts especially after a long hard day of having double math lessons.
One of the greatest things was that the teacher had seated her with Lucy for two years in a row, and that was truly a blessing. They had so much fun during the lessons. Writing each other notes, listening to music by trying to hide the earphones in their hair and hands, drawing, playing little games, or just chatting. They both had this amazing superhero ability to do all these things without getting caught. During breaks they would hang out with the whole gang, eating very fast, so they would have time to just wander around and have fun. Another interesting thing was her good old rivalry with the class Queen Bee. She and her friends (the mean girls of this school) would always feud with everyone around, but especially with Mia and her gang, for God knows what reason. The mean girls would always fight each other too, especially for boys, and would create drama and spread rumors about each other, which was also very entertaining to watch, sadly with no popcorn. Sometimes she’d sneak out of gym or computer classes with her friends, and wander in the corridors, trying to find a secret place to hide from the vice principal, who was like their own Dolores Umbridge, except that she wasn’t wearing all pink. They would even have their made up excuses ready in advance, in case a teacher or “Umbridge” caught them.
Somehow she enjoyed some of the classes too. She really loved learning new interesting things, which never included math. But she loved physic, and chemistry, especially when they were having lessons at the laboratory once a month. She also enjoyed the literature and French lessons, as it was her dream to go and live in France one day. So most of the time she liked the new information in different spheres, and that’s the reason she was called the nerd or geek by the mean girls. But she didn’t really care, because even in teen movies geeks always got to have a happy ending.
After lessons they’d often come home together with Lucy, have a lunch, try to do their homework as quickly as possible, in order to have more free time having fun. Sometimes they’d wait for the week to be over so they could have a sleepover on Friday, which was one of their favorite mini-traditions they had. They’d learn how to do make up on each other, watch a movie, fangirl about their celebrity crushes, try to learn a dance routine for their favorite song, sing karaoke and stay up all night just talking and giggling.
The school would usually throw parties on different holidays. She always got excited for the Halloween party, to be dressed as different scary characters, for contests and dances. But it never met her expectations, cause no one would pay much attention to the costumes, and would come just in fancy dresses. That’s why she always had a little party of her own, sometimes making it a little big, inviting a few friends over, or just hanging out with Lucy, eating lots of candies, rewatching The Addams Family or Halloweentown for the hundreds of times. The Christmas party was better, as the decorations were truly on point and the whole place looked magical. And also it felt like a well-deserved prize after the most difficult finals of the semester.
The second semester would begin a little boring, everyone still being in a festive mood and not ready for lessons. The next bright event would be the Valentines day. There was a secret post box, so that everyone could send a card to their crushes or even just friends. And the school was decorated in pink and red balloons and ribbons.
Spring always brought lots of new excitement to the daily life. Sometimes instead of lessons the class would go and plant some trees or flowers in the school yard, or just have a cleaning day, which was always fun, cause no one really cared about cleaning the streets, and everyone was just goofing around. The days would get brighter and lighter with every new day, and the thought of upcoming summer was really pleasant. The class would start to go to different excursions. Also she’d finally start meeting her other friends in evenings, as it wasn’t dark already.
And if you think about it, there aren’t that many problems at school. The only big problems were tests during the semester and the finals at the end. Or the teachers who would just pick on to some of the students for no obvious reasons, or be unfair with grades. Even the drama was never serious, usually involving a teacher leaving, the principal divorcing, boys fighting over girls and vice versa. So everything felt like a teenage tv-show, when each episode contained a new kind of a problem, which would be solved at the end of the series.
She closed the album, filled with all kind of memories, from elementary to middle school. She felt like she just got a great present, which was the ability of really liking school life, which now felt pretty interesting. She couldn’t even remember why she hated it so much before. Cause she’d had so many amazing memories to remember, and so many things to be excited about in the future.
After a little walk in the evening with her friends she went home, getting her outfit ready for the next day. Her room was covered in the last rays of sunset, the wind was blowing really mildly, and the whole atmosphere was fascinating, and she got the bittersweet feeling all over again, of summer ending and autumn coming. It was something really pleasant but sad at the same time, something she always failed to explain. But that feeling was beautiful for sure. “That’s what life’s all about”, she thought. Sometimes even the sad moments can be extremely wonderful. And maybe in these very moments you can really feel the art and beauty of life. Feel every single heartbeat of it, the note changes, from happy to sad and vice versa. The first sunset of autumn shows the sweet last farewell to the past and the thrilling greetings to the future. And in the present moment, she just stood still looking out of the window, overwhelmed with all those feelings.
She went to bed, later that day, excited to share all her thoughts with her friends the next day. Her eyes were slowly closing, and she got a whole year of fun and memories ahead of her…