Sat at home in bed sick on a recent Saturday night, I found myself trawling through the generic junk that’s on Saturday night TV. Talent shows, chat shows, a mediocre movie. Until, my Facebook homepage informed that my old secondary school was putting on a show, Strictly Dalkey. Similar to Strictly Come Dancing.
I’m not sure what it was that drew me to the online stream, curiosity, boredom or perhaps the chance to see my old teachers let their hair down. Seeing my past French teacher bust a move to Gangnam style with gusto, well my night was just made. Then seeing my past English teachers doing the salsa and quickstep, the icing on what was rapidly becoming a very reminiscent cake.
Seeing the school community unite, reminded me of a world, that while I’m not a direct part of anymore, I’m still connected with in some way. Spending six years in secondary school, you don’t forget it in a hurry. This wonderful cocoon, entering as a caterpillar and emerging as a butterfly, ready to fly off into the world with wings to take you anywhere.
As the years pass by, and I get further into my twenties and further away from my teenage years, part of me yearns to go back to the safety of that cocoon. Teachers who knew me, friends I saw every day, and then a year of girls who were a force to be reckoned with. It’s funny, you have your own group of friends, but as your progress through the school, your year becomes tighter, indestructible.
Coming home on the dart I see girls in my old school uniform. Ponytails and brightly coloured school bags, mobile phones and perhaps the odd shopping bag as well, fresh from an after school trip into town.
I wonder if they have the some of the same teachers, and maybe one of them has my old locker. Do they sit and gaze out the window of Room 10 or the top corridors that had views looking out onto the sea and towards Dalkey. Do they get caught daydreaming like I did?
In sixth year, I turned ‘rebel without a cause’, I dyed my hair black, crayoned on the eyeliner and mascara. I wore bright pink tank tops under my white shirt and cherry pattered black pumps.
Throwing caution to the wind and putting my own spin on the uniform. Some days, I miss the bottle green colours, the white shirt and the black socks, not forgetting my coveted Prefect Badge which rests in my jewellery box now.
The hat I wore in the transition year musical sits idly on a shelf, along with my old school hoody and hockey jersey. School memories, gone but not forgotten. I can still you about the last five minutes of every hockey final I played in, remember the tears I shed as I became inconsolable after I lost the German Debate, and the nerves I felt receiving my Junior Cert results.
Thinking back to the days I spent trying to find myself in the classrooms and corridors, searching for a course to on my CAO form as I desperately tried to get to grips with the infamous Tuiseal Ginideach. As someone who shall we tentatively say has their foot in the big pool of media, let’s call it the shallow end, I was quite shy back in school. It may not have appeared that way, but I remember feeling it.
Taking to the podium at debates and public speaking prepared me for radio, and while I was never the great at English, I like to think the classes taught me to think for myself and while sometimes that was to my detriment, it was the stepping stone into journalism. I was no good at Maths or science, and my teachers will vouch for that. I was never going to invent a cure for a disease, however, I would be the one reporting on it.
Your secondary school days are never too far away from you, no matter how much time you spend away. I’ve ventured into the grounds on the weekends, passed by the hockey pitch, the shouts and cheers still linger in the air.
The moans as we knew it was going to be a training session full of fitness or rejoicing as we won a game. Down past the side of the school, the old Geography room, now an ART room, and towards the coast. Where the school meets the edge of the sea. On a Summer’s day, it was paradise, our own little piece of paradise tucked away. The sea, calm and serene, or deep and dark in the depths of Winter.
If someone told a younger version of me how things would turn out, I don’t what she would have said, then again, she was never short on words, so she would have remained defiant and stated matter of factly ‘I’ll be fine’, with an air of fake cockiness.
Curiosity may have got the better of her though, as she enquired over the state of affairs regarding her future self’s love life. Rest assured, my awkward past self, it gets better, infinitely better. Do we ever shake off the nerves we felt in our teenage school years?
The giddiness and the butterflies still take residency in my stomach more frequently than I’d like, but if my school days taught me anything, I can tackle anything life throws at me, including the Tuiseal Ginideach!