Every September, as I watch the kids go back to school, I get the same yearning.
I wish it were me packing up Dad’s station wagon to go off to college.
I’d take my favorite pillow, and those narrow twin-bed sheets and an Indian batik bedspread.
I’d bring my popcorn popper to warm a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. And my old stereo turntable and my scratchy Crosby, Stills, and Nash albums.
And my big Underwood typewriter that I bought used for $12.00 – the kind where you have to pound the keys and then sometimes the spindles with the letters get stuck together in mid-air. With onion-skin erasable typewriter paper and a gum eraser.
I’d need notebooks too – the narrow-ruled kind. no larger than 5X8, so my notebooks are about the same size as my textbooks, making a neater stack to carry. Colored pens too – so I can color-code my notes.
I’ll take my bucket to carry my soap and shampoo and comb and toothbrush and toothpaste back and forth to the communal bathroom.
With my bell-bottom jeans, moccasins, and the sweater I knitted myself that has one little mistake in the shoulder –
I’d be ready.
Ready for my do-over.
I’ll sit in my Literature class and discuss The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. When the professor asks why Binx prefers the movies to real life, I’ll say exactly what I said in 1972:
“Movies are better than real life because unexpected things happen. Nothing unexpected ever happens in real life.”
And that scruffy boy will get up from the back of the room and walk over to me. He’ll lean over the desk and kiss me without touching anything but my innocent unpainted lips. And that boy will return to his seat without looking back. And I will shrug off the moment with a quip:
“As I was saying…”
And everyone will laugh.
And the class will be over and we’ll all leave.
And this time – this time – I will run down the hallway. And I will grab that young sweet man by his flannel shirt-tail. And he will turn around.
And I will kiss him back.