Today was the first day "back to school" for both Scooter and me. In both cases, I put the phrase into quotes because our first days have not coincided with the official first days.
For Scooter, there is no official first day since his daycare operates year-round. But this was his first day back since some of his friends started back to kindergarten. We had a moment of disorientation when we walked in--Scooter's cubby had been moved, and as I scanned the names, I realized that I didn't recognize a large number of the names I was seeing. On the plus side, it looks like my least favorite "friend" has moved on, so I don't have to worry about him picking on Scooter any longer. And although many of the kids from his group last year are headed off to junior kindergarten for half of each day, two of them will be with him all day.
He had a good day and was happily "playing basketball" with some of the other kids when I got there.
Today was the first day of my seminar. Now for most students, this was the end of their first week; for those students who were taking September exams (this is the first September I'm not!), it's been two weeks around the department. And so I walked in to a bunch of new faces, relieved briefly by my time in class (one person from another department, but otherwise all other people I've had classes with before) and a casual meeting with some other people in the afternoon.
But I realized as the day wore on that I am in danger of becoming that older grad student about whom the younger students whisper after I leave the room, "Who was that?"
And I also realized that as I am staring at a date for when I will be headed out of town, only to visit a few times a year, that maybe I'm OK with that.
I already experienced this disconnect a bit last year, though I know I was not the only one who felt this way. For whatever reason, last year's new group of MA students never mixed with the PhD students. And I don't just mean that our schedules were out of sync and we just didn't have the opportunity. No, it's more like I would enter the graduate lounge when a number of them were there and smile or say "hi" and all I'd get in return was stony silence--an experience that matches what I've heard from a number of other PhD students.
So at this point, the fact that I don't know the names of last year's MA students serves as a bit of a buffer from or barrier to connecting with the new batch.
And so my first day didn't feel as much like the fresh start of a new year as the beginning of a conclusion.
(On the other hand, the fact that I already have a list of work to tackle is a good reminder that school's back in session.)