On the weekend my old alma mater, Laura Secord Secondary School, held its 40th anniversary celebration. I was there for the last celebration, in 1989, when I was fourteen years old. Or rather, I should say that I was there at the school, if not the event. A friend of the family (and fellow alumni) attended the weekend festivities back then; for him, meeting all of his old teachers was an exercise in disbelief and nostalgia. For me, at the time, it would have been redunant, because everything was all new for me --the place and the staff, the faculty and the hallways. Everything still gleamed.
So it always is, I guess. As adults, we move on, then forward, while our adolescent brethren continue to walk the same halls we once did, chastised by the same teachers, pulling the same stupid pranks. We move away, but the structure remains inert. Time stands still in schools, I think; no matter how much technology changes, a thirteen year old is still a thirteen year old.
And sometimes I wonder if schools are, if not haunted, at least possessed by the remnants of those who go away. The hallways and bathrooms and classrooms and cafeteria bear silent witness to generations of goofy, awkward kids and their burning, intense dreams. Surely some emotional residue is left behind in those walls. There must be a trace of who we were, an inkling of psychic energy somehow locked between the lockers.
When I was at Laura Secord, I use to carve or write my initials anywhere I could. I'm not sure why. Perhaps to show that I was once there, in that place, at that time. I imagined returning to the school years later, looking for those same marks, a validation of who I was and where I went.
Maybe some other time. Last weekend's reunion has come and gone. The school still stands there, in that place. (Perhaps my shorthand signatures do, too -- in the library carrels, the cafeteria tables, the bathroom walls, above the urinals.) I'm over here, in this place.
What would I have seen, had I gone back? What would I have felt? Could my fifteen-year old self, or a disembodied facsimile thereof, still be roaming those halls, carting his monstrous, messy gym-bag around like a dead carcass?
I suppose so.
I guess, for now, I won't know.
But that's fine. That's okay. Secord is there, in that place, and I am here, in this place. It's still standing, somehow, after all these years.
So am I.
For now, I think that's enough.