September is notorious for being a month of firsts: first day of school, first day of college, first day of teaching. We often find ourselves in a new environment, surrounded by strangers whom we hope will become friends, curious to see what the world has to offer, what this new endeavor will bring. Ever since childhood, we’ve entered the classroom in this state of mind, either excited or afraid of the unknown we face. How will we get along with the new teachers? Will someone eat lunch with us? Most importantly, what are we going to learn? Will we succeed, or fail?
For this back-to-school issue of Windmill, we focused on the inherent uncertainty of childhood and how we find our way through.
In fiction, we offer Aimee Liu’s “Proof” and Annie Dawid’s “On Sundays,” two short stories whose beautifully crafted language deals with the main character understanding their parents’ faults. “Proof” provides a haunting narration of a young boy coming to terms with his mother’s terminal sickness and his father’s ineptitude (Trigger warning: “Proof” contains language related to sexual abuse), while in “On Sundays” a daughter witnesses her mother’s clinical depression and her father’s treatment of it. In nonfiction, Anne Jacobson’s “Oaks & Elms” essay parallels the nature of two homes: the one she grew up in and the one she currently resides in. Elegant in prose and imagery, Jacobson reflects on her own childhood, the life she lives now, and the life she sees for her children.
This September, as we fill our new backpack, unwrap our new lunchbox and scan the crowd in class for one familiar face, we relive the anxiety and the hope that each fall brings. And as we do, we remember childhood’s chaos and fears, yes, but we also celebrate the discovery and joy that growth brings.