Well, it’s that time again. A time of jubilation for weary parents and a time of beginning-of-the-school year angst for teachers. Because, friends, summer is coming to an end. The heat may well last for several months more here in Texas and in Abu Dhabi, for that matter. But the summer hiatus is ending which means parents and teachers alike are preparing for the momentous back-to-school happenings.
You see it everywhere. On television commercials. In Target. At the malls. It’s like a celebration–summer is over and school is starting. For me, in my 30 plus years as an educator, it has always been a celebration. Oh how I love getting all the gear for my classroom…going to Target to buy all the supplies is still one of my most favorite activities. In fact, just a few days ago, Victoria and I went to Target to get some things for her new adventure, and we wandered over through the BACK TO SCHOOL section and strolled up and down the aisles. Examining the cute new lunch boxes that had cats (squeal) on them. Eyeing the colorful array of backpacks and reminiscing about our times buying a new backpack every single year…because ew, Mom, NO. No I cannot carry the SAME backpack I had last year. (Enjoy it, mama friends. Because these times will be gone in the blink of an eye). We laughed together and remembered what fun we had buying school supplies. Now, for the very first time in my rather lengthy career, I won’t be buying items for my classroom. I won’t be getting new pencils that will eventually disappear. Or buying new Sharpies, or any new dry erase markers that dry up within 72 hours it seems. I won’t be ordering a bunch of new books, or studying new ways to teach The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter. There is no blue tac in my near future, nor a clipboard or a red pen for that matter. For the first time in a very long time, I am not going to be in a classroom; I feel heartbroken AND elated.
As some of you may know, my time in Abu Dhabi has ended. For four amazing years I had the privilege of living in one of the most amazing places on this earth. And during that time I was so blessed to teach and to know some of the most amazing young women. And I met some of my dearest friends and work colleagues who made my life away from home feel more like home than being in Texas. But it couldn’t last forever, and after completing an additional two years, it was time to say good-bye and head back. Only heading back to Texas this time looks a lot different.
For starters, I have no home. My sister has very generously offered me a room in her new house while I get settled in and readjusted to life in Texas. Also, I have no car. So I’m renting a car right now which isn’t financially advisable since I also don’t have a job. That’s right, friends, I am jobless. There are two ways of dealing with this situation. 1. Panic. Girl!! You are too old to be without a job. GET A JOB, like now please. Or 2. Exhilaration. Girl!! You are so lucky to be able to be unemployed for a bit. Now relax, and enjoy it. Work on editing all your travel photos. Work on your writing you’ve been putting off. Take a yoga class and breathe woman! If you know me at all, you know that I’m somewhere between the two positions. Not actually panicked (yet) and not really able to relax fully. But I have to say in all this uncertainty and unknown, I am grateful.
I am so very thankful to my friends and students in the UAE who taught me more than I would have ever learned about myself had I stayed in Texas. I’m thankful for all the opportunities I had to travel and see the world and to have the ability to show my daughter parts of the world she might not have seen. I’m thankful that I have some money saved so I didn’t have to come home and immediately try to head back to work full time because honestly, right now, I’m just not ready. I’m grateful for friends and family here who are helping me navigate these new waters which feel completely foreign right now. Leaving the US and all that was familiar was scary. But coming back is scary, too. When you live away for any length of time, you are changed. And I don’t mean changed a little. You are changed, and you can’t ever return to what was. This is scary and a little sad, too…like losing something you once treasured but then being unable to remember why you loved it so. And this is where I am. Not sad to have left my desert home, but not really happy about being back. It’s weird.
So for now, I’m going to focus on being grateful and trying to enjoy having some time to lay around in my bed which is so comfy. I’m sitting here, now, writing this. My sister thinks I have become one with my bed…she’s actually not far from the truth. But you know how it is. Sometimes we just need comfort and comforting. And right now, this is where I want to be and probably where I need to be, and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to just rest. Soon enough, I’ll be looking for a job. Not sure what that looks like yet. Maybe teaching, maybe not. But what I do know is I never dreamed that my life, my little ol’ ordinary life would ever look anything like it did these past four years, and it was astonishing. So if all that could happen the way it happened, then I am not worried. Life is a great adventure, friends. Don’t worry about it so much because you might miss the adventure. You don’t always need a map. Some of the greatest views are only found after the hardest journeys. Don’t be afraid. We can do hard things.
So dear friends, if you are feeling a bit lost or uncertain instead of fearing it, maybe embrace it a bit. See what you can learn about yourself. See where the mapless road might take you. I’ve done it. It changed me and enriched my life in more ways than I could imagine. And if it happened for me, it can happen for you, too. Dare to dream it. Then double down, and dare to achieve it. Just wait and see what happens! I’m waiting too…
Till next time! Thanks for reading.