In the weeks before my first day of high school, my dreams were plagued by horrors beyond imagining. I woke filled with dread from dreams about walking into school without my pants, without my shirt or shoes, without any clothes at all; dreams about walking around with my skirt tucked into my undies, trailed by people who pointed at me and laughed maniacally and I couldn’t figure out why; dreams that I got lost in the labyrinthine dark hallways of my new school; dreams that I couldn’t find my locker, or worse, that I couldn’t work the padlock on it. By the time school started, I was a bundle of nerves, almost too worried by the residual anxiety of weeks of haunted nights to preen in my cute plum and mustard plaid skirt and plum mock turtleneck with gold buttons up the back.
Those of you who are familiar with St. Matthew Lutheran High School are probably laughing hysterically now because you know in what ignorance my nightmares were founded. There was no chance I’d get lost: there were only four classrooms and really no hallways at all. There was no chance I would be unable to find my locker: there were only 96 of them, and each student got three. (Yeah, that's right: about 30 students total.) And no need to worry about padlock combinations: we didn’t have them. Apparently, nobody steals in a Lutheran school.
The saddest part of it all is that I had spent 180 days each year, preschool through eighth grade, just a parking lot away from the high school that had caused such trepidation. If only I had ventured inside that low brown building, I would have laid most of my fears to rest (except for the skirt in the undies trick, always a possibility for a girl as graceful as I). But here’s what I did learn: I have a very healthy fear of the unknown, really more like dread, and this dread often seeps into my nighttime subconscious.
So it’s no wonder that every year around August 15, for six years now, I start having the dreams. I have conducted a very scientific poll of two other teachers, and both of them claim to have similar dreams. I dream that I am stuck in a classroom with out of control students and my voice has shrunk to a whisper. I dream that they are jumping from one desk to another and swinging off the fluorescent lights. I dream that my phone won’t stop ringing, but I’m too afraid to pick it up because the noise level in the room is embarrassing. I dream that my students are throwing paper wads at me and it looks like snow, but it’s not pretty.
School starts tomorrow, and the dreams began a few weeks ago. They have been better this year than previous years, which may mean that I’m not as nervous about the first day of school as I was in previous years. Or maybe I’m just sleeping so soundly that the dreams aren’t sticking in my conscious memory. Whatever the case, the dreams have never come true. My dreaming mind is much more pessimistic than reality, and while I’m not excited about waking up before dawn tomorrow--and for 179 school days after that, I am excited about meeting my students and trying out some new ideas for writing and analyzing literature.
Here’s to a great school year! And no more bad school dreams.