Monday, December 13, 2010

The Starting Gate

As soon as they hear about my upcoming sojourn to Spain, people inevitably ask me two questions:

1. When are you leaving?
2. Are you excited?

That would be January 4th, Pat, for $800 please.

And no, I am not excited... yet. But thank you for asking.

Normally, I would be rearing to go. It's Spain, after all! But after fishing about in my soul for several days now, I really don't think I can say that I'm excited. Rather, it's stressing me out. You see, there is a saying in my family, one that somehow became ingrained in my psyche in spite of all my efforts to repel any of their wisdom: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might," they say. Problematic, to say the least.

What have my hands found to do?

I have 75 sophomore students depending on me to be their teacher. 75 sophomore students who just learned I was leaving. 75 sophomore students who need a kick in the pants and a reason to dream.

I can't give it to them; I suffer from no savior illusion.

But I can give them a run for their money; and share whatever I have left to give and hope that those 5 loaves and 3 fish multiply; and show them that quitters never win and winners never quit... and whatever other cliche that happens to prove true.

I can help them learn how to beat the test and help them see that even though they are facing an academic world that caters to white, middle-class students, they can play the game, too, for let us not deceive ourselves - it really is a game. You just have to know which two answers to eliminate.

I can squeeze one more essay out of them because they will work for me unlike they will work for the person who is going to take my place - at least for the first week or so. I have high hopes for him, bless his soul. My kids want to love someone, but they're stubborn buggers about it. He'll be okay.

I can support my co-workers and add some levity to an otherwise odious week. I can listen to their stories and learn from their experience. Referrals, it seems, are not all equal - or bad.

I can enjoy the days I have with the people I know and the opportunities I've been given.

School is what my hand found to do, and by golly, I'm going to do it. It's a fight to do it well, of course; no one likes knowing there are only four days... three days... two days... before infinite amounts of freedom.

Does that prevent me from being excited? No, not really.

But add to that planning classes, enjoying an unbelievable number of wonderful friends as well as a great family, and putting the finishing touches on travel preparations.

Actually, that's inaccurate. Aside from completing a mountain of paperwork and a Black Friday forage for luggage, I have made few travel preparations. January 4th looms ever closer. And I still don't have my visa.

Details, details, details!

My hands are full, to say the least. Thank God I'm not married! Although... hmm... yes.

Am I excited? No.

Ask me again in four days.