Sophomore mulls over memories of recent years, fifth grade, and time in general

As the school year draws to a close, I am struck by how quickly time seems to pass. My first full year in Eanes was fifth grade, so fifth grade is relatively significant for me. It’s even more significant now, as my sister is just finishing her year in fifth grade. I’m six years older than my sister, which means that fifth grade was five years ago. What’s crazy to me is that fifth grade still seems fairly recent — all these passing years don’t feel like they lasted the length they should have.


Even though elementary school seems recent, here I am in the final week of my sophomore year. Why does it feel like only two or three years have passed since I moved to Austin from the U.K. in the middle of my fourth grade year? And then I think about how before that, I was in California, before that the U.K., before that Hong Kong, and before that California, where I was born. I’ve done a lot of travelling, and moving has always signaled a big change. In my move to Austin, I shifted from attending elementary school in three different cities on two different continents to attending all of middle and high school in the same school district. In a way, I think that may be why I feel like the last five years flew by so quickly. With the absence of big changes, such as a move, I feel like my perception of time has changed. For the last five years there have been no big moments of, “OK, here’s a big move, enter new chapter of my life.”


As I mentioned before, my sister is finishing her fifth grade year, and during the year I have been able to recall so many memories of fifth grade. For example, the studying regime for the science STAAR imposed by her science teacher, the same teacher I had for fifth grade, was all too familiar. She also just went down to Galveston for the big end-of-year field trip. It’s fun to hear her stories, since I can remember more about what happened, or think, “That project was stressful” or, “I actually remember that project!” It’ll be even more fun when she starts middle school, and she begins, for example, reading the same novels I once did.


And as I reminisce of fifth grade, I start chuckling to myself. Luckily for my sister, this year the fifth grade science project was optional. However, when I was in fifth grade we were required to conduct a scientific investigation, and I chose to monitor the growth of plants. As a result of my investigation going slightly haywire — if I remember correctly, I had to start over at one point — I became very stressed out. Obviously at the time it wasn’t funny, but now, in retrospect, I can laugh a bit about how stressed out I got about such a non-consequential project. With my recent experience in high school, that project pales in comparison to an AP test.


I’ve jumped around a bit in my writing of this, following more my train of thought than a plan. Really, when I think of the past, I jump around between my different schools, homes, travels and moves. My English class just finished “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer, and my teacher emphasized how the writing jumped around to mimic a person’s mind. As I read the novel, I was more than a little annoyed, as my mind preferred logical courses, Point A to B to C, rather than Point A to C to B. But after writing this column, I realize I may have been slightly hypocritical. I do not think of memories or thoughts in a logical or chronological order. Instead I go to those that are clearest in my mind. And I don’t dislike that. Of course, saying I recognize the point of the writing style in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” wasn’t the goal of my entire column. But it certainly gives it an interesting connection.


My memories, clear or faint, funny or somber, take me on tangential topics, on different trains of thought. Thinking about these past events gives me another perspective, one that allows me to see how I fit into the world around me. As I do so, I usually end up becoming somewhat philosophical.