When high school is in session, a casual walk down any hallway is the definition of adrenaline. The kids come at you at 150 miles per hour with gusts up to 250; their tales, woes, injuries, test grades, love life or lack thereof, all that and then some. In fact, being an employee at a local high school, I will often walk out among the halls when I hear the bells ring; the goal being to pick up on their energy.
Trust me, if you need a pick-me-up, it's way better than vanilla coffee with cream and teeth-rotting amounts of sugar.
Now, however, that same walk is a different thing; more of a downer if you will. Lockers sit empty, idle. None are opening and closing; more importantly, none are slamming with authority. The bells are turned off. There is no chatter, no trash on the floors, no signs on each locker, no Happy Birthday wishes pasted on Locker #134, no Go Bears on the one right above it. No, instead there is - in a word - nothing.
Today I could actually hear my feet strike the floor. For that matter, I could hear myself breathing. During August-through-May, you can't even hear yourself think. You can't walk two steps without seeing someone, picking up on a conversation, finishing another, well-wishing one, cheering up one more. In short, when the bells are set to do their cosmic duty every 50 minutes, each step is another adventure; it's all-ways (one word and two) a case of sensory overload times twelve.
Except in June and July. I heard no bells ringing but I walked the halls anyway. I saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing.
In summary, sometimes silence is the loudest sound there is.
Can't wait till August!
Dunn Neugebauer is a coach at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School in Sandy Springs.