In Praise of Fresh Starts

In North Carolina, like much of the East Coast, there is that slice of the year–days only– that is bereft of humidity or cold or heat. If you don’t pay attention, you miss it in all it’s glory. It’s where the weather is almost not there. You walk outside to a silken breeze and sunshine peeking through leaves. And it always reminds me of the first day of school!

At Villa Cabrini Academy, on Burbank Blvd in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains, the first day of school would find me in a baby blue pleated uniform with white collar and cuffs, Buster Brown shoes and white anklet socks. My bangs were probably very short because I kept moving when Mom was trimming. [I am sure there is a picture somewhere of me with little stalks of hair sticking out of the top of my forehead.] [Right to left: Belinda, Mary Jane Francis Waggner -with frog- and me] I’d have a new book bag, a light navy blue sweater and I’d be lining up with my class for assembly in the quad between the eighth grade classroom and the Angelus bell. From the loud speaker John Philips Sousa would blare and we would march, around and up one, down two, up two, down four, up two, alternate down two and off to the class room in order, lowest grades first . I loved it, there was a consistency, a rhythm. It was order and process. This probably was to tire us out, prepare us to sit in our desks and learn. [Kindergarten, 1951] Although for me, sitting still was a struggle.

These few, very few mornings, with a slight chill in the air, a baby blue sky, and pure gold sunlight are prized. I hear a John Philips Sousa march in my head and I’m in that quad, with my friends, getting ready and it’s like the first day of school, bright, shiny, clean. I cherish the memories of consistency, rhythm, order and process that enables fresh starts. Because we all need them. I’m very lucky. I can go there every morning.