12:00 in the afternoon, summer vacation started. I arrived at work this morning around 7:00. The Girl and I stopped at Starbucks; we celebrate the last Friday of every school-month. Only today was our last Friday; therefore, today was our Starbucks-Friday.
We drove to school slurping our frappacinos, listening to the radio, and sitting in companionable silence. She had four hours of nothing to do and had brought her sketchbook. After school, her friend and friend’s mother were going to take her (the Girl) out for lunch and an afternoon of hang-out-time.
Good day for the Girl.
The activity in my school was a subtle sense of waiting. People were emptying filing cabinets, purging old material, stacking up books. Because I had decided to follow my gut instinct, I printed out supplementary material for next year’s hopeful classes and continued photocopying.
Hours fell away. I took a break and wandered the halls, chatted with friends. I spoke with my co-director/supervisor about The Crucible; we evaluated modernizing the play, the pros and cons. And finally, we concluded that by modernizing the play, we could hit head on some of the points we are trying to make; we would work through concerns and anxieties without having to stress.
I am going to spend time blocking the play this summer. I am going to set out a chess board and move the pieces and pretend that they are actors. I will listen to my internal voice and let creativity breathe deep within me.
This year has been….incredible.
Beautiful and inspiring. The questions from the previous year arched into the beginning of this year. And I pursued these questions through their curving paths until finally I arrived at a dead end. A broken rope bridge. A spectrum with a pot of gold. A spectrum with an empty treasure chest.
I had to find my own peace. I had to release the phantoms screaming at me from the other side of the mirror and walk away with my own spine, with my head up and my eyes forward and the distractions nothing more than smudges in the receding horizon.
I made mistakes this year.
I will make mistakes every year.
I regret not giving my students Robert Okaji’s poetry earlier so that the video conference would have been more energetic. I regret not bringing in more creativity and allowing fatigue and bone-crushing exhaustion to chill my body and sink me deeper and deeper into the couch.
I taught new books. I tried new lesson plans. I did new things and found some old familiars. Most of all, I just stopped worrying.
I found my peace.
With my undramatic past.
With who I am and who I want to be and who I will never be or who I might be but I will be the only person who can determine of that person will emerge.
I found my peace with stupid and inconsequential mistakes that I have hovered over my head like a swinging blunt guillotine blade. At any moment, each of those memories could come crashing down and crush my skull, crush everything. And I let those specters haunt me when they really were stupid and inconsequential.
Sometimes, the ghosts of those mistakes will come rushing at me from my peripheral vision. I will forget that I have found my peace and will allow them to plaster themselves over my face, suffocated me with my shame. And then, I will remember my peace. I will remember my own self-forgiveness. And I will thrust away the memory, the fractured mistake, the regret that has no more power over me.
Shrug my shoulders. Give a weak laugh.
I boxed up four feet of photocopying. I boxed up the skeletons of lesson plans and hopes for amazing lessons with amazing students. I boxed up poetry that spans centuries and hemispheres. I boxed up words and stacked them on a desk in the workroom and waited for twelve o’clock.
Not midnight. I am no Cinderella. I will never wear a glass slipper.
But I will wear ugly shoes that are great for throwing. I will wear hiking boots that will keep me steady on the rocks and will provide just enough comfort that after ten hours of hiking, my feet are only so swollen. I will wear my sandals that are old and unfashionable but offer my feet comfort after ten hours of hard hiking or eight hours of pacing my classroom.
I will walk barefoot, like I did today when I walked Leia around the lake with the Boy. In the back corner of the lake is a creek which feeds the lake; Leia loves playing in the water, will lay in the water and cool herself. Today, I shrugged off my sandals and waded, luxuriating in the cold water, the stubbly gravel pinching between my toes, the soft mud that cradled my feet as I sank for a second.
I made decisions last night regarding the books I hope to teach to my seniors next year. Several of them are still in my classroom in boxes. I know I could go back, dig through the boxes and find my teacher copies.
I’m also too lazy to think that this is a good idea.
No. I will go to a bookstore tomorrow and find some used copies. Buy those. Because the boxes in the corner of my room are quiet and filled with quiet memories. And I will do nothing to disturb those beautiful memories.