As Alice Cooper once said, “School’s out for summer”. Well, almost. It is not summer vacations yet but you can sense it in the air. Yesterday was the year end gala at my daughter’s school. It is funny to call it her school. Not long ago, it was “my son’s school” and before that, “my school”. Ok, that was a bit longer ago but still, you walk in there and nothing much changed. There were of course a few coats of paint since but the walls, the stairs, the classrooms are all at the same place, only smaller than they use to look like.
When I was in 5th grade, I was living across the street for the school. I had a small summer job that year where I needed to bring the office supplies from the front door to the 2nd floor where the storage room was. That was easy! Boxes of pens and pencils, a few notebooks, markers, chalk boxes and then… paper boxes. When you are 10 or 11 years old, a box of 10,000 sheets of paper is a bit heavier than when you’re 35. For a few days, all I did for 2 or 3 hours a day was climbing a staircase with boxes of paper. No complaints, no whining, no A/C…
The thing that was hitting me the most when I was going to work was how quiet the place could be. Schools have a typical feeling during the year with the kids energy floating in the air. During the summer, nothing. Lights are off in the hallways, the few people in the establishment are busy in their office and it give an entirely different feeling to the place. I had that frequent discomfort feeling about being alone in a place that should be alive.
So last night, I was asked to photograph the gala. Nothing artsy, nothing complicated. Just walk around, take pictures of the students and parents, a few pictures of the awards recipients and that’s it. As I was walking between the building where the guests were coming in and where the awards would be distributed, I came across the hallway leading to my old 3rd or 4th grade classroom. The lights were out in the hallway, there was no one around.
A strange feeling of discomfort.
There were no sounds, no A/C.