When I started high school I was happy, excited, enthusiastic, and terrified.
I had visited area schools, taken entrance exams, checked out the costs, and carefully looked at travel arrangements. (Told you I really love planning! ) The school that I chose was a small (200 total students) parochial girls’ school overseen by JFK’s parish when he lived in Georgetown as a Senator. Some of our teachers came from Georgetown University just a block away. In the 50s, Georgetown was an old, pleasantly shabby part of DC across from Rosslyn in Arlington County. At the time, there were probably around twenty private high schools for either girls or boys located in the district or in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Some were associated with the rich and privileged such as the “Prep School” that we have heard about recently, but my high school, Holy Trinity was completely unremarkable in that regard.
Because my family lived in Arlington, my daily trip involved taking the city bus to and from school. I learned right away from other students that if you got off on the Virginia side and walked across the Key bridge, you would save a nickel. Sounded great to me! After all, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” In either case we still had to walk up that steep hill from M Street that everyone now knows from the movie “The Exorcist,” so the extra walk across the bridge did not add very much distance to our daily walk. Fortunately we had no daylight saving time in the 50’s, so the early morning walk was possible year round. Every morning there were groups of students making their way across the bridge all decked out in the school uniforms that were so important in establishing our identities to the world at large. Some of the students had to catch another bus or streetcar to get to school, but those of us at Holy Trinity had arrived. The bridge was solid and permanent, but the Potomac river was constantly changing, and there were always new people to meet. For all four years I enjoyed the walk in the early morning when the world was awakening and the new day was full of promises.
Now here in my new home I am feeling the same happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and yes, terror that I felt when I started high school. So many new people, so many new things to learn, and will I be able to find the place I am trying to get to and still have my keys when I get home? The more things change, the more they stay the same. You will see me out in the early morning every day walking and enjoying the new day, meeting old and new friends, and noticing all the changes from the day before. Well, high school worked out ok, so I think this new adventure will too. Thanks, all, for the very warm welcome!