... I have seen seventy Septembers, but...
This year I am a ship without a rudder, not sure where I am supposed to be.
My first four Septembers are not memorable. I am immersed in babyhood, being the first pudgy darling of doting parents. My greatest interest is a set of five cloth books each containing ten nursery rhymes. Place me on a blanket with my literary collection and I will be there when you return. Perhaps that accounts for the "pudgy". One outstanding morning all the electric wires and maple trees are in a big tangle on our street, the aftermath of the hurricane of ‘38. I do not remember the storm itself.
Ann in 4th grade
Before my fifth September my family, which now includes a baby sister, moves to Stoneham so I can begin school at five years old. I walk one mile to school every day being the last house in the district, and, of course, one mile home. I carry my lunch box containing a mustard sandwich and a ketchup sandwich. I am a very low maintenance child. I gobble up school. Reading and numbers come easily to me as do art and writing. I am expressive in plays but a terrible singer. After the sudden death of my father and the remarriage of my mother when I am in third grade, my Septembers begin to occur in Melrose.
As an upperclassman I enjoy September more and more. I jump head first into a new set of classes designed carefully so that I will have plenty of graduation points each year. I carry my eighth grade Latin on for four more years eventually being able to translate at sight. I take French for my last three – enough to order a sandwich in Quebec. The only science for me is biology which is fascinating to every adolescent, and math is a necessity to be endured. By the time I get to senior year, I choose typing over math. Later sitting at my computer, I realize what a wise decision that is. My greatest love is English class – "so many books, so little time"-- and learning that interesting things can come from my pen.
My next four Septembers are spent at Bridgewater State Teachers College. The weather is a little different from Melrose, more like Cape Cod – a slower autumn. I am ready to go. Our sunroom holds everything I am going to need to begin a new life somewhere else. Every stitch of clothing I own is clean and ironed at the same moment. Aside from my clothes I am bringing a desk lamp and an afghan crocheted by my mother. Still a low maintenance person. Everything fits into one trunk. My mother and brother drive me down the long way since Routes 128 and 495 do not yet exist. All freshman dorm students assemble in clusters of three to choose rooms by chance. I had previously been to Bridgewater at Girls' State, so I find two girls I at least know by sight. We end up with last pick and there are no more rooms. So we are designated "floaters" to live for a year in spaces that happen to be empty. I am placed in a double with a junior whose room mate had married a sailor over the summer. I'm not sure why married students are assigned single rooms since no man can ever enter the dorm. That first September evening, sitting at an assigned seat in the dining room, I realize I am my own person for the first time in my life – not somebody's daughter or somebody's sister – just me. And I know at that moment that I will succeed.
Retirement comes in 1990, earlier than I had originally planned. I wonder all summer what I will do in September. As it happens, I am on a freighter from Montreal to Antwerp and back with four days spent in Belgium. And school begins successfully without me, freeing me to do other things. My husband is retired, so we begin taking our "summer vacation" in September and October, camping in Maine. We enjoy the beaches, restaurants and fairs with few crowds and wonderful weather. I go to Maine alone for two years after his death, but this year I do not go. September just blends in with August and October. I shall not make that mistake again. I do not enjoy being a rudderless ship. Next year I shall look forward to my favorite month for a special reason. I wonder what it will be.