The Door

November 30, 2009
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This place was as she had always remembered it, yet everything had changed. New wood floors, new pupils, new teachers. Everything changed, everything rotated, everything but the door.

As she stepped into the foyer, the dark wood and warm tasseled carpet still beckoning her inside towards her future, memories flooded back. Fifth grade: plaid skirts, white shirts, knee socks; excitement, anxiety, and fears. Sixth grade: a new playground filled with kids braving the cold for a chance to feel the rush of the only slide on campus. Seventh grade: school mascots of green and white and made-up songs to cheer them on during matches. Eighth grade: commencement, bells, and summer pulling these adolescents from their home. They were scared, but they were ready.

The door still shone in the darkness, pure in all its glory. It had a worn feeling to it, scratches marking up the white surface, scarring its once pristine image. The door, like the school, had weathered two hundred kids, twelve grades, a fire, and fifty years; it showed. The door had been permanently scarred, deeps cuts running across its surface. It had been repainted many a time, however the color choice had remained white. Surprisingly, the paint had chipped and the wood had been damaged, but the paint had never been dirtied. Kids, even with their deviances, had respected this door.

Each morning, busloads of children had unloaded and entered this place of learning; this harbor of safety was their true home. When they left they said ‘good riddance’ and arrived at home with a sigh. ‘What did you do today at school?’ the parents would ask, hoping to gain some return on their investment that, although expensive, seemed worth it in the long run. ‘Nothing,’ a young girl would respond, rolling her eyes and running off to her room to unload her books and start the massive piles of work she had been assigned this weekday. Of all the things she could have been doing, this had to be the worst. Pre-algebra, ancient Mayan civilizations, and Science transformed into Gettysburg battle reenactments and camping trips, leadership trips, and the Bodies exhibit. Each block of knowledge that she learned translated into a physical block that was locked into place on the ever-growing, green and white Lego-model of the Parthenon that was part of this year’s school competition; her team won. More knowledge meant more blocks; not just in school but in friendship, respect, and compassion.

At the end of the foyer, a round entrance to the main hallway signaled the history and legacy of all the classes that had passed through the school. Standing in the center, this girl observed the numerous painted blocks of wood that lined the wall. There were thin slices of wood that were simple and plain and fatter slabs with elaborate framing and molding; some were emblazoned with the school symbol, a hawk, some with personal feelings and messages to the school. Each plaque represented the graduating class of that year. The last spot in the row had been filled with her class’s wood plaque, laminated and touched up. No matter how glossed over their work now was in this hall of memories, she could remember the fights, the passion, and the effort that went into the plaque. But most of all she could remember the feeling of accomplishment when her class had completed the work.

It was not perfect, no, but she didn’t care. Wasn’t that the point anyway? Her class was never meant to be perfect, although they were campus favorites among staff and students alike. Like the door, her class, many classes before them, and many classes to come, would be forever scarred. Not only did they make an impression on this door; the door also made an impression on them. They may not have had physical scars, but each block that was added to that model had added to the impression this school had made on them. Maybe it wasn’t perfect and maybe it was more trouble than it was worth, but it was here that she had found her true home, her true friends, her true place in the world. This was Harbor.

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