I never really got into the homecoming hoopla when I was in high school. The only thing it meant to me was pajama day and attending one football game a season. I know that homecoming is meant for the graduates, but after I graduated high school, I didn’t really care. I only went to one homecoming game.
That was it.
When I was teaching, homecoming still meant pajama day (the second-best day of the school year!) and attending a single football game, but it became something more. And not just an entire week of ridiculous dress-up days, either. (Although, I participated in those with far more enthusiasm and school spirit than I ever did in high school.) I’m not much of a sports fan, but I always went to that single football game and cheered my heart out and rubbed elbows with the recent (and not-so-recent) graduates and their parents and their siblings and grandparents. (Such is life in a small town--everyone turns out for the school sporting events.)
It was never truly homecoming for me, though, because I was already home.
That made this year my first true homecoming.
Homecoming never meant much to me as a student. It meant quite a bit more to me as a teacher. But this year, as a former teacher, I revisited the topic, and homecoming took on a new sort of significance.
Last Friday I went to that homecoming game and “chaperoned” the following dance (I pretty much just danced).
In the spirit of homecoming, of coming home, I returned to the little school that had been my home for seven beautiful years, and for the first time, I understood what homecoming is all about. It’s about hugs and spirit and face paint and shrieks of laughter and joy and the best pork chops (on a stick, even!) that I’ve ever had in my life.
It’s about being embraced by those you’ve missed.
And embraced I was—I was mauled with hugs and love and kind words, and my dorky dance moves were a hit. And although I did shed a few bittersweet and frustrated tears on the ride back to my house—I miss that school, those people like crazy, and I hate that my epilepsy stole that from me—I must, like a high school graduate, move on. I must create myself a new home, but always remember and celebrate the first.