About two weeks after school ended a few years ago, my almost best friend Judy and I met up in the mail room. We looked at each other unsure why we were even in school, and why we both looked so harried. Hadn’t we arrived at the hallowed ground every teacher waits for: June, July and August? School was over. Shouldn’t we be relaxed by now? Neither of us was, but then Judy supplied the metaphor I needed to understand what I was feeling.
“Every year when school is over I feel like the train has come to a screeching halt,” she explained. “The tracks have stopped, but the train keeps rolling forward, and my body is catapulting through the air still moving at 100 miles an hour.” And that is how every school year has ended for me too. It usually takes me until July or so to realize I’m done for a while and that it’s OK to breathe, to stop, and just be.
But not this year. For the first time since I’ve had babies to care for, I am not at school in February. Instead of running at the break-neck pace of a school year, I have simply gotten off the train. It pulled into a station on the last day in January, and I very calmly got off and waved as my colleagues quite capably and valiantly continued. This year I am on a Leave of Absence and I couldn’t be further away from Waynflete School if I wanted to be.
I am in Zambia. Stop one of a five country tour of Africa. I will start by staying with my niece and her family, and then move on to the friends and families of current and past Waynflete students and faculty. I will be living in different cultures and absorbing and observing the world. I have been given a marvelous and amazing gift, and I plan to make the best of it….especially when today my colleagues had a snow day and the promise of another foot of snow or more on the way.
I went swimming.