When you are a teacher the New Year is really in September. It doesn’t matter about Champagne at midnight on December 31st, glittery parties and hastily made resolutions. The New Year will always be September. And it is this way for children too, and college kids. We live in a different year where the smell of new pencil shavings and a shiny thermos signal the start of newness, new beginnings and new hopes.
My summer was magical. Really. There is nothing quite like leaving one world behind and entering a whole different dimension for a month. Leaving a world of school, paper work, crazy drives, schedules and a desert (an end of term that comes with a tiredness that sits like an ache over your whole body) and bidding farewell to the routine of life for one whole month is quite simply a gift. My children said they felt lucky because for them, going home is a holiday while for all our friends it is “just” home. How right they are. We see everything with fresh eager eyes, taste food with the taste buds of aliens descended from a desert planet. And we continuously exclaim, to the amusement of all our friends “ ahh smell that forest, taste those cherries, oh my doesn’t the lake feel cool and clean in a way I had only dreamt of.” And I realized that green does, indeed, have a smell. And walking in the woods has a sound, somewhere between a crunch and a thud, a soft spilling of thankfulness onto an ancient bed of organic rot.
To sit and talk to old friends who know you so well, so that you feel instantly comfortable, so that the laughter runs as smoothly as the wine and the nights outdoors are just chilled enough to warrant a soft wrap around the shoulders, like the hug of a friend, but no more. And the roads have drivers, who understand the rules, and the shops have people serving who understand the product and the post office still has the same man in there who sold you stamps 10 years ago, and he smiles and nods, hello.
Yes it was magical. And often I feel the bitter taste of crossness on my tongue all summer long. The grumpy sulk of “why can’t I live here all the time and why why! Do I have to go back?” But this time it was different. I know it will all be there next summer; it will all be there next year. The magic will wait. And I know what I have to do, where I live and why I stay. It works, but it works because I know that the magic is on pause and I will go back.
So now another year starts. Year two. It already sings a brighter tune than last year. We know the steps, the foibles and the slips and starts that can catch. We know the rules, the things that work and the right routes that make for smooth sailing. Already I am caught off my feet, back at work, classrooms full and heavy with potential. There seems less time to write, and time must be paid for the things that matter.
The weaving of my days.