It's been more than three and a half years since I was a student at Albuquerque Academy. I've only been back a couple of times to visit, most recently this past Wednesday - just weeks before I move from Albuquerque to Enid. It was a chance for me to look back and reminisce. These were my thoughts as I walked the length of the campus, returning to the places that shaped my life for seven years:
Will I remember everyone? Will anyone remember me?
I hesitated to leave my car, not wanting to be caught unaware by some ghost of my past. I stepped out to walk toward the classrooms. Crunching on dry leaves, a familiar outdoor scent immediately sent me back years.
It smells like finals week.
Entering a hallway devoid of kids, my suspicions proved true. In typical Academy fashion, kids left lockers open, backpacks out on the floors, completely trusting of their environment. I remember often leaving a full backpack out on the open grass under a tree, leaving to lunch, and returning to pick up the bag, still there, still with all its contents.
That was a very different world than where I am now.
I made my way straight to my favorite place on campus. Ms. Wilson's office.
Unfortunately, but to be expected, no one was in her office. Any other day and it would likely be packed tight with kids, bustling with activity just like when I was the kid in the office, playing with Ms. Wilson's toys, chatting with friends, ditching a class.
I miss being a kid.
From there I decided to just simply walk the length of the campus. Everywhere I went, every single place I looked, held memories. Walking from east to west, the memories came from further and further back in time. They flooded back, too numerous to recount. They ebbed and flowed in their vividry. The sight of red brick revived dormant memories, the silence of the library renewed old thoughts.
As with all memories, I have my share of the good and the panic-inducing, worst-day-of-my-life kind of bad. I'm sure you know the kind. It was high school after all.
If anywhere, I felt this most when I visited the west campus. This is where life at Academy begins. Sixth grade. One of the most difficult transitions in my life. A terrible, tumultuous, head-on collision into a new environment and social landscape, with an incognizant eleven-year-old boy in the driver's seat.
What a mistake.
Sometimes I do think that, but it's hardly the truth. If it was a mistake it has proven worth it. My time at the Academy didn't just shape my life, it was my life for over seven years and I do not regret it.
Funny to think of all this on the brink of another potentially tumultuous transition.
But here I am, ready to take on the challenge of intentionally uprooting my entire life and moving forward. Hopefully this time I at least know a little better, due, in no small part, to my time at Albuquerque Academy.