It's back to school. Those hideous posters taped up on the fronts of store windows featuring happy children in brand name clothing, backpacks swung over one shoulder and some sort of electronic device in hand. It's back to school with packets and packets of lined paper, mechanical pencils filled with lead, and a new hairstyle and a new wardrobe and a new you because the last you was so last year. It's plaid and purple and whatever is in style. It's grade twelve and senior year and graduating (finally) and alliances and territories. It's back to school.

It's that first day when those familiar faces and familiar names pull up in flashy cars with fresh paint and new car smell and people gather around as they show off their SUVs and speedy sports cars and their environmentally safe, pollution-reducing, solar, battery, and gas powered vehicles. It's motorcycles and bikes from the downtown bike shop. It's credit cards with big names like VISA and MasterCard paying for their lunches and their new Roxy sweaters and Converse shoes and if you were to have the courage to approach Mack, Cole, or Lydia and ask them why they've suddenly taken an interest in Vans or DC or Billabong, they would tell you they'd always had an interest in them (and were you some kind of idiot?). But we all know it was American Eagle and Abercrombie and Fitch ruling their wardrobes until skate became cool and they jumped on the bandwagon.

It's dreams of pale flesh and blond hair dipped in gold shimmer, bright blue eyes reflecting a harsh world, dreams of clothing being taken off and put back on again. It's the wish for zero tan lines, larger breasts, thinner legs, higher cheekbones, longer eyelashes. You wanted the perfect boy, the King of the school, and you wanted to be Queen. The Ice Queen with her cold, calculating eyes and her perfect application of lip gloss. It wouldn't matter how many times they would make fun of your hair or your clothes or your lack of a cell phone (and when you did get one, you would only do it so you could feign popularity, pretend you were talking to important people in important places) because you would bounce back and get on your knees and hope and wish.

It's Halloween with it's revealing nurse costumes and Playboy Bunny outfits, dark red lipstick, and throwing pumpkins at pedestrians. It's parties and drinking and wondering whether or not this would be the night you would be with Mr. Right, Mack Kennedy, that boy in your math class who always knows the answer, the one with the perfect teeth and the Zac Efron hair (you want to be his Vanessa Hudgens). And even though it's still impeccably cold, all the popular girls are wearing mini skirts and tight jeans and t-shirts and they still roll the windows down in their cars so the wind can circulate the smell of sweet Mary-Jane and cigarette smoke away from their designer outfits, their latest styles.

It's school dances with the themes of Christmas Spirit and Cave People, where the girls find opportunities to wrap themselves in red and green and white tinsel and parade around half-naked, underwear showing, too much blush on their cheeks. Or animal print swaths of material draped across young bodies, skin still glowing from the summer, and high heels on small feet, model bodies, model heights.

It's the way the teachers drone on and on and soon it's Christmas and Easter and March Break and every holiday you could imagine, and then you're graduating and you're finally free and there's no more Mack and his Zac Efron hair, his ability at math problems. No more Cole and his flashy sports car, big name bank card, or smooth-talking, alcoholic voice. No more Lydia and her nonexistent tan lines, her long, straight hair, her large breasts, her thin legs, her Barbie-figure. Now it's university and planning ahead and that art program you were going to. There would never be a high school again, not forever, not for a while.

It's back to school today. It's back to school to learn things we'll never need or care about. It's back to the bottom of the social ladder, it's back to the cafeteria full of the buzz of conversation. It's the school play and the school band. It's gossip from the summer, filling the recently empty halls. It's the summer air still lingering, dousing the world in steamy remembrance. It's Zac Efron and you're going to try to be his Vanessa just one last time.