School of Rock


My son, William, started kindergarten yesterday. I wasn’t there to watch him put his backpack on, or take pictures of him in his new clothes, or observe him interact with kids in his classroom—which totally sucks, but that’s not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is this:

Things we choose to remember.

Kindergarten is when things really started to stick with me. Lucid memories and self-identity/discovery were in full swing once I entered those gray, pointed steel gates of Tierra Bonita Elementary.

I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of kids, most of them seemingly right around my same age. Some of them had already formed little groups and were talking and laughing like grown-ups do at parties, or at church. I wondered where they’d all come from. I wondered why I’d never met any of them before.

I think that I pretty much knew from “day-1” that I was going to have a difficult time at school. I pretty much knew that being social and responsible and academically inclined were not my strong suits. I learned that I was introverted and observant and quiet and kind of weird. That’s not to say that I never had any fun, or didn’t fit in, or was overly bullied, etc. It simply means that I was beginning to walk down the ever-winding path of Bryan Carl Nolte.

Now I’m sitting here looking at the clock, wondering how William is doing at school. I’m wondering what memories he’s making inside of his little head. I’m wondering if they are happy ones, funny ones, sad ones, lonely ones, EXCITING ONES???

I’m wondering where he gets picked up by his mom after school. Is it by the school sign? Is it by the front doors? Are there other kids waiting with him? What do they talk about? Does he talk to them? Does he laugh? Is he self-conscious about anything? Has he made friends? Enemies?

My mom used to pick my sister and me up after school at the top of a hill. We would sit on a big rock (pictured above) and wait for her. I can still feel the brittle, smoothness of that rock. I can still feel the sun on my back. I can still see my sisters hair illuminated—golden strands blowing in the warm Santa Anna winds.

I understand that for you, the reader, the picture above is simply “a rock”, but for me it’s a mesmerizing conduit into the past—a visual portal to specific moments of my childhood.

What are some “things” from your childhood that bring back a flood of memories and emotions? Are they things that anyone else might view as trivial, or ordinary? If you could go somewhere, or look at something from your past, what would it be? How would you feel? What would you say to help the person standing next to you know how you feel?