Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disappearing

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The sunlight seems to be disappearing these days faster than I can capture and appreciate it. I stare longingly at the rays through my classroom windows, begrudgingly tilting blinds to keep the glares out of my students eyes, and race from the building out onto trails after the bell has released me—or was it my students?—for the day.

There are times for staying and working for hours after the students have long since boarded the buses—September sun seems to veto the mere thought of it.

We broke past fifty degrees again this afternoon, seemingly miraculous when some late September days have found us staring at fresh flakes, and even as I heated in my long-sleeved shirt I welcomed the natural warmth. Sure, I can find heat under a blanket or near a fire, but it doesn’t match the feel of sun on bare legs and pale faces; I doubt it ever will.

While nature heads toward hibernation, I sense the same with Curtis. A friendly schedule this summer has seemingly come to an end, with the current schedule taped to the fridge with silent earnestness: “schedule social outings of your own, or become a hermit” it seems to cry.

Oddly enough, it is the hermitage of this summer I was craving this morning as I drove to school: a week in a small Alaskan village. The trip I was warned about turned out to be the vacation we never expected, complete with long walks on the tundra, lazy afternoons to bake bread, and endless rounds of the only game we found in the place—backgammon. I miss the simplicity even as I remember struggling to embrace it.

In moments such as this I feel akin to my students, people struggling against boundaries even as they need them. I fill my schedule, often to the brim, unable to either say “no” or willingly embrace solitude. Yet I find myself craving it, in the quiet of morning mountain sunrises, in the chaos of a hallway packed with teenagers, in the evening moments I gather my belongings for one more day of work before shuffling under the covers. That is when I remember that a reluctant two weeks of rubber boots and a raincoat in a isolated village became the monumental event of the summer, the moment I want to go back and reclaim.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll ask my students if I can kick myself into the hall to work for a while, away from the chaos of the classroom, and I will leave them in charge. Perhaps they’ll walk away with the same revelation—you don’t always have what you want, but perhaps it is what you need.

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