Walking through the halls of Wilton High School during the five-minute interval between classes feels like being a salmon flailing upstream. As a second-semester senior, everything around me has become washed in a fog of nostalgia, and today I realized I am going to oddly miss the experience of moving from class to class like a salmon.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am not tall. This fact acts as both a blessing and a curse in the hallways. The blessing: due to my smallness I am able to avoid getting hit by flailing arms through seeking out small open patches of hallway, which go unnoticed by those of taller stature. The curse: it is easy for me to be hit by flailing arms because I stand just about elbow and shoulder height to many.
Multitudes of stairwells only add to the glorious march from classroom to classroom. These stairwells echo like rolling thunder as hundreds of students descend and ascend the wax-coated steps. Something each student learns at freshmen orientation is that you must always remember to use the right-hand side door. We indoctrinate this mantra to each class because most of the stairwell doors have no small window to see if a person is planning on walking through. Therefore, to walk on the wrong side would mean risking getting smacked by a heavy, navy blue door.
After some time traversing all the different stairwells, students begin to learn which ones are the most and least crowded. One stairwell in particular always accumulates heavy traffic as it puts you in perfect position to get to the cafeteria, the new wing, and the locker rooms. This was unfortunate for myself when sophomore year, in the busiest stairwell of all, I dropped a copy of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, only to have it be caught in the door frame, causing me to subsequently back up the entire stairwell.
The hallways are also the perfect place to brush up on how to give and receive quick greetings. Certain people whom I greet in the halls are so good at saying hello it boggles my mind and brightens my day. Some people will give a light and subtle wave, a boisterous hello, or maybe just a head nod and a crooked smile. I love this aspect of Wilton High’s halls.
As I walked back to my locker today, I noticed all the different interactions around me. Students laughed with one another, or maybe they complained about the math test they just took. Some students whispered, while others called out to their friend down the hall. One student raced in front of me, and another student was given a friendly shove from his buddy. Many students lugged a backpack, while others carried books under their crisscrossed arms. Amid the chaos I realized that the hectic hallway atmosphere was such an essential part of the Wilton High School experience. During those five-minute intervals, where teachers do the best they can to hide in their classroom, or move deftly to their next destination, students taste a moment of freedom. This short transition period is the chance to see your friends again, to laugh, and to take a quick breath before heading to your next subject. The halls are where students jump off of walls and maybe get into quarrels, but mostly these halls serve as the playground we no longer have.
The best part, though, is the moment when the halls go quiet. The moment when everything goes still as tardy students trickle into their next class. This quiet tells me that these navy halls that I walk through every day are in a sense, and may always be, home.