To me, the day after Labor Day is New Year’s Day. When school begins, my calendar year begins. That’s how it was when I was the student. Then our kids were the students. And Peter and I both worked in academia for more than thirty years. Fall is the year’s beginning to us.
Last week, I decided to walk over to the Farmer’s Market on the Harvard University campus for some end-of-summer corn and maybe some beginning-of-fall apples. I didn’t realize that it was freshman move-in-day. Harvard Yard (surrounded by freshman dormitories) becomes a parking lot. Signs warn that you only have twenty minutes to unload the belongings of your member of the class of 2023. Harvard’s maintenance vehicles can’t keep up with the mountains of empty cardboard boxes on the walkways.
I’ve just finished reading Grown and Flown, a new book that prepares parents for the very event I was observing. I smiled to myself as I recognized the usual emotions that accompany saying good-bye to a child. I can’t even remember my own college drop-off, but I bet my parents did.
I did notice something different this year. There were strategically placed police eyeing the crowd. Thoughts of mass shootings rushed into my head and I quickened my steps.