It has been 476 days since my last post. It wasn’t an intentional writing sabbatical, but one that just sort of happened. I thought about writing a number of times, but could never bring myself to sit down and do it. I’m not really sure why, and I’m not really sure why today I do feel called to empty out my brain for the greater blogospehere. But here goes.
A lot happened in the last 476 days. The biggest of which was that I became Aunt Amanda, a role that has flipped my world upside down. The aunt part actually happened more than 476 days ago, but it was the welcoming of that new human into the world in the summer of 2016 that set everything else in motion.
I loved my life in Texas. I had settled into a groove in a new job in which I found a great deal of success. I had transitioned from teaching because I wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side and so I set up a life there and began to put down roots. And in so many ways, the grass really was greener. The pay was great, the kitchen at my office was fully stocked with snacks, I worked with wonderful people, I could go to the bathroom any time I wanted, and it was oh so gloriously quiet!
Except it was hard being a facetime aunt, and while my job was stable and great, there was something missing at its core. I thought I could be someone that just had a career, but I am not that person. You can take the girl out of the classroom, but she will always be a teacher. So I started pulling out feelers for jobs in Rochester for the following spring. The universe had other plans and two weeks later I had once again packed up my life and was driving north to be a third grade teacher.
Anything I thought was hard about teaching before was nothing compared what I experienced when I walked into my new school on that cold November day. I was teaching in the city at a receivership school, which roughly translates to: school is failing in multiple ways so the state gives it 2 years and a ton of funding to turn it around before deciding whether or not to close it. My class had scared off its original teacher after 8 days and had cycled through a number of substitutes until I arrived.
It was the hardest job I have ever had. Windows were smashed, I was hit, kicked, called “Fuck you white lady” and in the early days, I felt successful if I got them to pull it together for a 20 minute lesson–the whole day.
But I kept showing up and soon they started to believe that I would keep showing up and we began to trust each other and form our own little community. We learned about empathy, which is perhaps the most important weapon in a world full of monsters, which for so many of these children, is their everyday experience. We battled those monsters together. We read stories and solved problems and I watched the lightbulbs above their heads illuminate when they suddenly made a connection they hadn’t before. “Ms G I get it!”
And when days were really hard, which was often, I stopped by my brothers house on the way home and I snuggled my nephew, who’s smile when he sees me continues to melt my heart.
In the summer he and I had weekly dates to the zoo. We picnicked on my front lawn and went for long walks in the neighborhood. We read books and colored and giggled and loved. Even today, when the snow is thick and the temperatures frigid and Coop is about to stage a mutiny if I ask him to go outside again, I wouldn’t do anything different. He is totally worth being here for.
In the past 476 days I also made incredible friends, who are silly, adventurous, and loving. I am so grateful for them and for the role they have played in my new life here. I also traveled to Florida, back home to Texas (I may live here, but Texas will always be home), the Adirondacks, and Hawaii. I paraglided, flew over an active volcano, ziplined, hiked, camped, danced, held a seahorse, got another tattoo, snow shoed, celebrated Coop’s 12th birthday, and so much more.
I still teach 3rd grade and still in the city, but this year I am at a charter school, which is another new world of teaching adventures. It’s hard, but in a different way, and I am so glad to be back in the classroom even if I have a few more stress wrinkles. The grass may not be as green, but it’s where I belong.
I have no idea what my future holds. My journey has taken me in so many directions that I never imagined, but in the end, that has been what’s made all the difference.
Happy new year!