School Days

My first episode of major depression was when I was thirteen and in my first term at boarding school.  I don’t very often think about it in much depth, and since my last two years there were mostly positive, I don’t feel particularly twisted up about it as a whole.  Anyway, I suspect that for the majority of us school years were mixed at best, so I don’t need a special pity party just for me.

But over the last couple of months, I have been prompted to revisit some old haunts.  It began when I read a novel called Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld, about an American boarding school (Sweet Valley High, as written by George Elliot, according to one critic).  The day after I finished it, I ran into a girl from my boarding house on a farm in Cornwall.  Then a week later, I met the headmaster who had taken over after my headmaster retired.  And had a friend from school to stay for the night.  Yesterday Charis emptied out a bookshelf, and my GCSE revision cards fell out of King Lear.

Sometimes walking right into the middle of a frightening place is the best way to cope with it.  It’s not that I have realised that it was all much easier than I had remembered- it was genuinely bleak- but neither are those memories so dreadful that I need to organise my mind around avoiding them.

What is your philosophy? Move on and forget, or try to reconcile yourself to your past and live alongside it?

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