The French do a lot of things extremely well, and one of them is back-to-school. An awkward collection of words in English, in French it’s la rentrée, and it’s a cultural phenomenon. When schoolchildren go back to school in September, businesses reopen, politics start up again in earnest, and new films and TV programming are released. As opposed to American back-to-school, a festival commemorated primarily by frazzled parents elbowing each other in overcrowded Walmarts, la rentrée is for everyone. People treat it as a second New Year’s. Some make resolutions. Gym memberships spike. As summer’s heat melts into early autumn’s warmth, the scent of new beginnings is in the air.
This idea appeals to me. I love a chance to start over. It feels like absolution and benediction all rolled up in one. This year, I am embracing the spirit of la rentrée and rejoicing in this opportunity to begin again. The big French flag I just hung on my classroom wall will serve as a reminder. New beginnings aren’t just for January 1 or for spring. They are always there for the taking.
All around me, things are beginning–quiet things, not the showing things of April and May but the deep, slow, meditative things, the autumn-things. I love their ponderous weight on my imagination.
I am beginning a new adventure as a purveyor of headwear for faeries. This has been all kinds of fun and nerve-wracking. Yesterday I had my best querying day yet, with emails from two different agents wanting to see more of my work. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten two in one day. Rejections, yes. Part of being a querying writer is multiple-rejection days. I once got a rejection on Valentine’s Day. My valiant writer-friend Pam got one on her birthday this year.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the realities, the stresses–but it’s important, too, to plunge headfirst into the sea of possibility, to let optimism wash over you, drench you, saturate every fiber of your being. It is a saving grace.
So for now, I am going to rejoice in my two sales and my two emails, and throw myself wholeheartedly into celebrating all the potential of fresh starts. I am going to greet my students with genuine excitement, even after OMGit’sbeenoveradecade years of teaching, and I am going to teach them how to say “hello” and “chicken” and “where is the bathroom?” with all the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a dragon discovering a wondrous new bauble for her hoard.