When I was a toddler, my pre-school had a total of six, large classrooms as well as one massive playground where the kids gathered and milled around for about an hour, everyday.
We bounced tennis balls against the wall and called it “wall-ball” but when I went back there as a teenager, the classrooms looked run-down and shabby, and I couldn’t believe that I could reach the monkey bars without lifting my feet off the ground.
Since I’d left, my pre-school had stayed the same and I had grown up in more ways than one.
In public, elementary school, there was more than one hallway (compared to elementary school) and lunch was divided by grade levels.
I took my job as a hall monitor very seriously, patrolling the kids as they made their way to the school buses; even though I knew other teachers walking up and down the corridors were the actual ones safeguarding, I stood there in my fluorescent vest and tried to look militant.
I also won my school-wide spelling bee as a fourth grader, but now that I think back to elementary school, what seemed to be the accomplishment of a lifetime has now been overshadowed by more impressive feats that came along later in my life.
By the time I made it to junior high, I was enrolled in private school and the game had totally changed. I was on a college-style campus, I had seven different teachers, and elementary school was a training bra compared to junior high, easily a push-up.
But still, our physical health was governed by mandatory P.E. classes and students treated curse words as they treat illegal plants and liquids today: they were exchanged in secrecy, brandished as an ironic sign of maturity.
Finally, high school made the past look pitiful with all the free periods that it offered, along with its late night studying sessions, and the concept of getting around without your parents being your chauffeur.
When we were kids, the world seemed so spacious, so infinite, even if we seldom ventured outside our state lines.
You once looked up to bricks and structure of your elementary school as you two-strapped your backpack into its vicinity, but when you go back to visit, you find yourself looking down, metaphorically and literally.
The colors of wall paint don’t seem as vibrant, the teachers look more tired and irritable than you remember them, and it seems as though more dust has gathered since your last visit.
I see high school now as the highest point in my time as a human being, but next year, I’ll be off in college. When I come back, will I see this place differently?
University, a whole other galaxy in itself, will present to me an infinitely larger campus, with equally as infinite opportunities, with a far more advanced living style than I have ever experienced.
Will I feel like a foreigner in this bed? Will I forget that I was raised in this neighborhood, this city, this state?
Here is where I learned everything that got me into college.
Never forget where you come from.
The world seems to only get bigger, not smaller. Life gets only more complicated and details tend to be lost as we unravel some metaphorical fabric to step back and look at the big picture.
But never let your hometown, your childhood, whatever made you you get lost in some tiny corner of this literary fabric. Don’t forget, don’t lose yourself, because at that point, what will be left of you?