03 September 2008

le premier jour

As I bit into my crisp, red apple, the taste that filled my mouth was one of familiarity, nostalgia, and tradition. Every September, returning to school just as the harvest was kicking in. Every September, walking a well-known route to a well-known building. Every September, having a rough idea of what to expect.

The reassuring act of eating an apple as I walked to class masked a lot of things: uncertainty, fear, even exhilaration. The repetition momentarily fooled me into thinking things were the same as they have been for the past 19 years.

"Are you sad you're not coming with me today?" Brian asked yesterday, as he headed downtown for his first Ph.D class.

"Nope!" I replied, without a second's hesitation.

"Oh," he said, sounding slightly disappointed. "It's just that this is the first class we haven't gone to together in a long time."

"I know, but I am okay with that. You know that this is what you want to do, and that you want to go back to school. I know I want to do something different."

In the sweltering heat, three floors up in an old school building, I was conjugating verbs this morning. The room was packed: Me, one other Canadian anglophone, and about 20 immigrants from many different countries. We're all trying to improve our French, which is a struggle in itself. Then there's the added layer of thick accents from around the world. I have no clue as to what many of my classmates are saying in their accented French, and I doubt they can understand me. In the meantime, we all smile and nod awkwardly.

I was starting to feel faint in the heat, and putting my head down, when I felt something ice cold touch my cheek. The Iranian lady who sat next to me looked at me sympathetically and pressed a cold can of orange juice to my forehead. I smiled gratefully and glanced at her desk for the first time. She had an apple too.


Leslie said...

First day of school has always been full of new adventures for you, this one even more so! : )
Good luck sweet child of mine.

Anonymous said...

Cute post!