Monday, September 21, 2009

Seasons

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The coming of fall brings memories of so many things to the front of my mind. The change of every season brings memories: childhood, high school, college…every season of my life flashes before me like the brightly colored leaves fluttering to the ground.

The leaves are changing early this year, I think. The tips of some trees are fluorescent pinks and reds; others are nearly saturated with yellow and brown. I gaze at them as I drive to work, to run errands. I get lost in their transformations as I run through the neighborhoods, becoming startled when a squirrel’s movement brings me back to reality.

I have lived through twenty-five autumns, this year marking my twenty-sixth. I do not remember my first couple autumn seasons, though as I grew older the season would be marked with the beginning of the school year, a crisp moving breeze, the donning of sweaters and the sipping of crisp apple cider.

Funny how my memories are so colored by Hallmark clich├ęs.

This is the first September that I have not returned to school. I am still a teacher, running my day by bells that ring at 41 minute intervals. I create assignments, plan lectures, collect tests and assign grades. I am still very much “in” school…just not as a student.

And even though I go to school every day, I feel somehow I have gotten older. I have left the role of student, perhaps for now, perhaps forever, and entered into my time exclusively as teacher, as caretaker, as advocate, without care for my own educational career.

It’s freeing, and yet I mourn it as well. Entering a classroom with colorful ink pens, crisp three-holed paper and the stomach for an insurmountable syllabus brings a smile to my face and activities to my evening.

And now my evenings are empty, a reality just as difficult to stomach.

I am one who has marked my worth by the productivity of my days for as long as I can remember.

And now I am learning (because I will always be a student) that I can learn new things with the empty evenings:

To find peace.

To find rest.

And to appreciate the changing of the seasons.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Escape

I found this series of questions while poking around the internet, ardently avoiding the editing and photocopying required to construct a Unit Exam for my 10th grade English class. The idea of escape was interesting to me, because it's not something I normally think about. I'm a realist. I deal with things that are plausible and likely--I don't often allow myself to dream freely. This doesn't bother me, it just makes the occasional dreaming session out of the ordinary, and in this case, quite fun.

Feel free to join the indulgence...reality will always be there.

1. If you could escape to anywhere in the world where would it be?

Rural England, specifically the western coast a few hours outside of London, would be my first choice. I went here with my aunt four years ago, and the beauty of it was haunting. My aunt now struggles with her health, and I would love to visit her, and the beautiful country in which she lives.

2. What song do you play when you are by yourself in the car?

“Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy. It’s so relaxing and peaceful, in a life that sometimes feels so chaotic.

3. If you had a night to yourself, and money was no object, what would you do?

Drive to Cleveland, eat a nice dinner and dessert out, see a Broadway musical at the Cleveland Playhouse, and spend the night at the Renaissance downtown.

4. What is your guilty pleasure?

Watching reruns of television on the internet, because we don’t have live television in our house.

5. What is the farthest place you have traveled away from your home?

Negros Occidental, the Phillipines, which I went to in High School as a service trip.

6. Last book that you couldn't put down?

What is the What? By Dave Eggers, which altered my understanding of the turmoil in the Sudan.

7. When you want to escape into another time, what movie do you watch?

Braveheart. I love the passion in their living, and their simple existence (though I would miss modern plumbing)

8. What is your favorite local escape?

The Amish Door, a quaint inn in Amish country where you can walk for miles undisturbed, or sit on the porch and read in the calming breeze.

9. How do you escape on a budget?

Escape by visiting friends and family where the entertainment is abundant and cheap, and the couch to sleep on is free.

10. Best food you've ever had while on vacation.

Fresh papaya in Hawaii, one of my most vivid childhood vacation memories, or fresh sushi in San Francisco.

...and now, back to work.