Imagine you’re sitting next to a friend at an incredibly loud sporting event. As everyone is cheering on their team, you’re trying to tell your friend that you’re going to get some more popcorn. Maybe you try to yell, but they still don’t hear you. So you lean in close, tell them where you’re going, and stand up to get some snacks.
Here in Northern Illinois, we are deep in the heart of winter. The days are short and the sunlight can be nearly impossible to find some days. It seems as if it is dark when I wake up and go to school, and somehow it’s nearly dark when I leave school as well.
I am an absolute sucker for second chances, new beginnings, and fresh starts. It should come as no surprise then when I say that the beginning of a new year is most certainly my favorite part of each year. Sure, I enjoy birthdays, holidays, and summer just like everyone else, but there is something truly magical about the first of three hundred and sixty-five new days. It’s like the first page in a wonderful new book. I tend to start each new year wide-eyed and excited for all the possibilities of ahead.
Remember that feeling as a child when you went grocery shopping with your mom? One moment, you were right on her heels as she turned the corner to switch aisles and all of a sudden, you looked up and she was gone. What was just a typical afternoon quickly turned into a moment of sheer panic and fear. The comfort and assurance of being with mom was gone and in its place was uncertainty and fear.
Ever since school got out at the end of May, I’ve been experiencing my very first teacher summer. I’ve been spending my time sleeping in, doing some traveling to see family and friends, napping, and just generally resting.
As a young child living in the Midwest, I have vivid memories of being woken up in the middle of the night by my parents during storms. My mom, the parent usually tasked with waking us kids up while my dad watched the weather, would gently shake us and tell us to grab our pillows and blankets and come lay in the hallway. My siblings and I would typically sprawl out in the hallway, arguing over who got what area of space. When we were young, we would instantly fall back asleep. On a few occasions, when the storm was severe enough, we would move into the bathroom, pile into the bathtub and wait out the storm.
There haven’t been a whole lot of constants for me over the last year.
For the past year of my life, nothing has stayed the same. I went from my final semester of college, to a summer at home working an office job, to student teaching, to graduating, to a brand new job in a brand new town. I went from being an expert at being a student after having done that for 15+ years to being a teacher with virtually no experience. I went from knowing everyone on the tiny campus I lived on to moving to a new town where the only people I know are my coworkers.
When it comes to pain tolerance, I am the biggest wimp ever. Last summer, I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. It was something that I had been putting off for years and once it was on the calendar, I was dreading it for months. I knew I would be put under for the actual procedure and would not feel any pain; however, it wasn’t the procedure that I was worried about.
This past weekend, I had my first snow day as a teacher. It was one that we were all highly anticipating after hearing the menacing forecast of eight to twelve inches of snow. Sure enough, the night before the expected snowstorm, we received a phone call canceling school, giving us a long weekend.
In the past three and a half years, I have made seven moves. I have moved back and forth from home to school and back again. I’ve become a professional at somehow stuffing every single article of clothing, book, coffee mug, and knick-knack into my assortment of suitcases, duffle bags, and large plastic totes. Strategically packing my tiny car full of my belongings is basically a skill I could add to my resume, and I should probably get an award for being able to drive with such limited visibility out the back window of my car.