Where have i been?

Good question. In the garbage disposal crunching up all the waste, all the debris, all the junk. Behind a screen teaching others. Not sleeping. Hunched over. Worried. Fixing. Building. Grandparenting. Working. Mostly working. Existing. Waiting. Worrying. Worrying. Worrying. Holding my breathe. Counting down the days. Not that I am, but 81 days until I bid eight hours+ of weekly grading behind me: Retirement. In quotes.

It’s like having three burners on my stove set low. Much to do. Much to wrap up. The retirement papers. Medicare. My classroom which currently has 18 years of books and materials strewn over the desks which will soon be occupied with students.

This week, I have to go into the class and box them up. No one wants them. No one wants the thousands of dollars of materials I’ve purchased over the years, the story of my teaching life; the projects, our many investigations into literary Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Women, Artistic Americans That Matter. I pulled hundreds of sources out of the cupboards, laid them on the desks, offered them to overworked, over-stressed colleagues, and when I open Room 18 this week they will, no doubt, still be there as an homage to exuberant teaching. My well-exercised credit card. My joy of teaching.

I’m not going to talk about this “crazy year.” Everyone else is doing a great job at that. It’s been taxing. My neck and back are cast into the shape of a fisherman’s hook. My butt is pancakesque. My eyes from squinting at the computer all day talking to first and last names are officially worse: I just had to get a stronger eye glass prescription. Thanks COVID-19.

You see, I am not a sitter. I’m a dancer. A move-about-the-roomer. I don’t have a desk in my classroom or at home. I prefer to shimmy.

Soon enough, I’ll be back in the classroom and my dance floor will be restored. Wait, I forgot, I think I have to stay in one place, next to the monitor where I’ll teach to the camera and teach to masked middle school ones–in my double mask! Fun times.

It will be good. It won’t be normal, but it will be good to be six-feet-apart from humans. Am I scared? Yeh, I am. I know not everyone is as careful as I am. I know someone’s gonna get sick. I just hope, selfishly, it’s not me. I’ve got 2.5 months until GRADING IS PAST TENSE.

Friday I get my second shot. My doctor doesn’t want me mingling for two weeks, that’ll be post Spring Break. “Be patient,” she said, “and safe.” I wish the powers-that-be would have given all teachers that same mandate. I wish we were pushed to the head of the line sooner. So we could get on with it. I wish the public understood how hard it is to be in a room with no circulation, with kids who aren’t so diligent and sanitary, and sit in a stew of virus–without the benefit of proper gear and the vaccination. No other profession has the same demands as being in a class with active, vibrant kids. But somehow, returning to school and anti-teacher union sentiment has clouded our unique situation, our reality.

I’m grateful that I will finally be fully vaccinated before returning to campus. It was, by the way, a fluke. I happened to be at the doctor’s at the end of the day being treated for an eye infection (Thanks COVID-eyes) and a nurse walked around asking, “Does anyone need a COVID shot?” Right place, right time.

Like this morning: Sitting in the gazebo, the rising sun bleaching my face, a zippy hummingbird helicoptered above the Sunday newspaper. We were both in awe; a flying glittery jewel staring down at a frumpy, dressing-gowned, soon-to-be, former teacher.

It darted to another destination as a shadow flew into the newly trimmed Chinese elm tree. A hawk. A hawk in my backyard! A regal king surveying my city-forest backyard.

And just as suddenly–gone!

Like my teaching career. Like raising children and grandchildren. Like stomach aches and COVID worry and overspending on the new Affordable Dwelling Unit–Moonstone Cottage–and stressing over finishing the To-Do The List before Sunday night.

Just like that.

A purple, magenta and apple cider ale sunset.

Which sounds just about right this cool Spring Eve of Everything.

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