The new school year is into the swing of itself. now. They hired for the campus jobs the other week, they've evaluated the new students and posted individualized graduation requirements, and Charlie has started his traditional round of workshops and seminars--which I'm helping him with.
One activity I haven't done before was the Graduating Novices Meeting. I really had no idea this even happened and I could not figure out why it should be a secret. I mean, all we did was gather in a group along with Allen and Greg, talk a little about how we felt about our impending graduation, and listen to Allen and Greg talk about how the year would go for us and what the graduation process actually is. Apparently, we'll meet like this about every month. Every group of graduating novices does this.
So, why the secrecy? I asked.
"Because we want you to know there's more going on than meets the eye," said Allen. "Which is true, there is, but not everybody realizes it. We figured the best way to make it obvious was to do a lot of things around campus and not tell you."
He's right--there's always an air of mystery about this place, of vagueness and mutability, as though the stairways and corridors might move when we're not looking, as though house-elves or something might be scurrying about their business just out of sight. I suppose we're among the house-elves.
There's thirty-four of us, plus four mastery candidates who are graduating this coming year, but they didn't meet with us. I hadn't counted us up before, but even if I had, I would have gotten the wrong number because there are two yearlings graduating too, two one-hit-wonders. It's interesting to look at us, all in a group, for the first time. Some of them I obviously know pretty well--the people I started with, the ones in my dorm (including my friend, Eddie), but most of the others I really only know to say hi to. That's kind of embarrassing.
Something I hadn't really appreciated before was that the entire groundskeeping team, except Zoe (a new hire this year--she was on the library team last year), is graduating next Brigid. Charlie will have to hire and train almost a whole new crew. So, really Zoe is not just training to be a team member--she's training to be a team leader, like what Lou was. The leader acts as a supervisor when Charlie isn't available, handing out tasks and making sure everything gets done according to Charlie's standard and nothing is forgotten. It's usually the most experienced person on the team, but we all started at the same time, except for Zoe. I had thought Charlie might pick me, because I had some landscaping experience before coming here, but he picked Donna. I suppose that makes sense, since horticulture is really central to her studies.
Even without leading the groundskeeping group, I really feel like I'm here in a way I haven't before. Like, this whole time I've felt like I'm arriving, and now I have arrived. That feeling of having already left is gone (I'm really glad) and now I'm just really aware that I'm one of the people around here who really knows what's going on. I've been here longer than almost all the other students, I help out with a lot of Charlie's workshops and things, and I know so much about the place, but the identity of all of the trees to where the masters' secret doorway is...and yet I'm thinking about what Allen said about the value of not knowing things.
I caught up with him this morning when we crossed paths in the Great Hall.
"Allen, I don't know all the secrets around here, do I?" I must have sounded worried about it because he laughed.
"No, you don't."
"But what if I did? What if...you and the other masters know all of them, don't you? I mean, you run the school. Does it seem less magical to you, knowing everything?"
"We know what we do," Allen said, "but we don't know what you're going to do."
And he walked off, still laughing gently.