things found in my high school, in no particular order.
i. paint When they rebuilt our high school, they doused it in white paint. The fluorescent lights glare down from the ceiling, casting gray shadows on uniform cinder blocks. Our locker bays are held in place by ghostly white bricks, the navy lockers a beacon of color in a sea of its absence. Not that anybody uses the lockers, really. We drag our backpacks back and forth through the halls, zippers and tags and water bottles denting and scratching the walls. When the paint peels, we look underneath it curiously. But it's just more white paint.
ii. bleachers When they rebuilt our high school, they had to rip up the old bleachers in the gym. Nobody was sad to see them go; the wood creaked and squealed under our feet as we clambered up them for pep rallies. We saluted the end of the old oaken boards with something like fondness. When they came back, suspended over our heads and stapled onto the stairs, we frowned. They gave us new bleachers for the gym, plastic benches that fold back into the wall in the gym and metal strips bolted to metal plates on the football field. The stories about all the times the new bleachers have broken have become akin to legend.
iii. chairs In the math rooms we sit on modernistic black creations, plastic bending down the back and under the chair to function as legs. In the science and engineering classrooms, we perch awkwardly on tall black stools, feet swinging as we try and find the floor beneath us. In the cafeteria, we crowd around the old lunch-table-benches, or eat on the stairs, or sit around round tables with plastic mesh chairs. A large-group instruction room, covered by glass on three sides, boasts black versions of the same chair except that these have cushioned seats. In the courtyards, solid stone benches and plastic lawn chairs reign supreme. Bored in a downstairs classroom, we spin around on rolling chairs. Across the hall, the old metal-and-plastic chairs that survived for over fifteen years still stand strong. In the languages and politics classrooms, our chairs are blue plastic designed to be sat on in any way -- but we can't tip backwards or they'll start to break. When it's time for music, we stand on bleachers or sit rigidly in chairs designed to improve posture. Couches and recliners lurk in the communal hallways.
iv. standardized tests The gym is large, and quiet, and stuffy. The wooden floor under our feet is still relatively scuff-free, and the thousands of intersecting lines that make up the courts swoop and dive under the lacquer. Hundreds of little white fold-out desks sit in ordered rows, stretching on and on until it seems like there is no end. The black folding chairs protest at every nervous shift. Teacher sit at the head of each row, staring us down as we begin the next round of testing. The sun rises behind us; the windows cast golden squares of light upon the wall. After finishing a test, we watch the progression down the walls with fascination, wondering what it's like out there in the sunshine.
v. hallways Hallways could almost be considered as boot camp for driving. If you can't go fast enough, if you can't tell when somebody's going to join your side of the hall, if you don't notice the person in head of you stopping or slowing down.... We learn to pass those in front of us with lessening remorse, trying to make it to class. The locker bays, like parking lots, clog and slow people down. The only problem we run in to is signaling... or the lack of it. You learn to stop suddenly to avoid crashing into that person rounding a corner you can't see.
vi. small talk We talk about the world like it's something else, something alien. In these halls, the universe shrinks a trillion-fold until it is pressing against the window-panes. And we laugh and joke, draw, punch endless numbers into calculators, take more tests, learn new concepts. And in here it's never what's out there but studying for that human geography test. And the fluorescent lights bathe us in artificial starlight, the plastic frames symbolic for our lives; we pull metaphors from thin air, weave the words like and as into ever-growing essays. And in forty minutes we write endless papers that we pretend will make the world become more than tests and true/false.