Heading to high school I was 15, going into 10th grade in Vancouver, Washington. I was worried about finding my way around and finding a good group of friends who I could laugh and gather with so I didn’t have to go through high school alone.

a photo of a young beautiful girl with a backpack on ready for her first day of high school

Heading into 5th grade I was an awkward, gangly, skinny, 10 year old that still got a nervous tummy ache and couldn’t sleep well the night before school. I was the one walking up our long road on a foggy morning to get to the school just up the road and the feel of crisp clothes and sharpened pencils hung in the air.

a photo of a young girl with a backpack on ready for her first day of 5th grade

The first day had an actual smell.

They started with masks. Worry that they will not be in school for long before it shuts down. And worry that this year could look like something they’ve never lived through before.

But they mostly felt what I felt. Mostly they wanted to get there, get to know people and teachers and settle in.

Mostly they worried about what to wear and how to do their hair.

And you know what, I’m glad. I’m glad that they are seeing past the politics and fear. I’m glad they are heading back to face the unknown. It will change them, but I hope for the better.

And ps, one started high school, man, you guys this is hard. My heart feels so much and it can’t even settle down to really think through each feeling. It’s weird and it’s wonderful. It’s sad and it’s achingly real. It’s exciting and it’s one step closer to her walking out on her own.