It was a special day back at my alma mater, The Hackley School, where I had the chance to visit the annual book fair and speak with engaging, interested, and ambitious high school English students about creative writing and publishing.
Tonight I’ll be back on the Hilltop for a lecture and book signing, but I have a few minutes to quickly dash off some thoughts from the day. I was especially touched by several things.
First, the warmth of the welcome from that close-knit and supportive community. Everyone I met, from the students to the teachers (new and familiar) to the parents picking their kids up on campus – everyone was excited about The Traitor’s Wife. I felt such hometown love.
Second, what a vibrant and beautiful campus it is, where students and teachers alike are energetic and enthusiastic. Students were studying together, planning fundraisers for Haitian orphans, talking about their own passions for history and English. There is such a unique energy when you set foot into places where the primary goal is to LEARN.
Third, about what a trippy thing it is, the passage of time. For me, while looking into the eyes of the high school students, I didn’t feel like I was that far removed from them, at all. Driving in, I remembered everything about what it used to feel like, driving up in my old jeep, showing up for a day of school and worrying about being late to homeroom.
But I just know that, from their seats, I seemed very far removed from them. I remember what 29 would have sounded like to my 16-year-old self. And look at how much life I have lived since I sat where they sit. College and marriage and living in New York City and working in news and moving to Chicago and watching friends and family members grow and change. How have eleven years passed already?
From their seats, I might have looked like a bona fide adult. And yet, there I was, finding it very difficult to address my former teachers by their first names.
Is there any place more buzzing and exciting than a school?
Update – here are some photos from the wonderful event later that evening in the Hackley Library.