Thursday, September 8, 2011

At Full Throttle

For Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The other morning I woke up an hour before I needed to get up to begin my day. After seeing the time, I fell back asleep. I then had a terrible nightmare. My husband was driving in icy road conditions and as we approached a big green bridge, he came close to rear ending a sand truck. In my dream, being in the passenger seat, I told my husband to slow down, but before I could get the words out completely, our car went off the road and off the bridge, about to plunge into the icy river below. I braced for the impact; my arms wrapped around my head, and then....I woke up.
Grateful it had been a dream, I instinctively looked at my alarm clock. My alarm had not gone off and it was a half hour later than it usually is when I hop in the shower. I jumped up and we all made it out of the house in time, but I could not stop thinking that I was once again sliding off a bridge. The entire day I braced myself for another crash.

In the middle of my work day, I went to the bathroom and I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. I was well put together. My eyes looked tired but that is nothing new. I’ve long burned the candle at both ends. My mouth easily formed a smile but I know that I have long been an actress. Perhaps there has never been a better time for me to put those theatrical skills to work. Because, I don’t feel “right”. I know we all go through life’s ups and downs and that, “This too shall pass” but, I’m sad.

There. I said it. I am sad, and at the risk of sounding like a child throwing a tantrum, the rest of the world is continuing on as normal and that doesn’t seem quite fair. Well, of course it would continue on, and of course it should. I am expected to also. There hasn’t been a death announced in the obituaries, there is no visible scar on my face, I have not had a health scare, my children are fine, there is no REASON for my despair that the naked eye can see. With the unscheduled days of summer behind me, I have been thrown back into the hectic pace, and I’m now expected to be professional and to be “on” for lessons and the day-to-day communications with students, their parents, my coworkers, and administrators. I am back, going full throttle as I have always done each school year. But this September is different for me. Although I always mourn the loss of summer, this year I have new anxieties and a raw awareness of the passing of time. I keep screeching to a stop at different moments in my day and even at night when I should be sleeping. I keep slamming on the brakes, but they aren’t working. And maybe that is for the best. I don’t know.

When I slam on those brakes during a quiet moment at school or anytime when I feel the need to be honest with myself, I know that I am grieving and bouncing from those various stages of grief without any logical progression, without any sensible timing. I imagine my journey as a pinball machine. I have control of the side buttons propelling the flippers inside to push the ball around, but I can not foretell where that ball will go or for how long the ball will be in motion before I have to hit those buttons again. I have to stay there, ready to hit those flippers each time the ball gets close to dropping and I am transfixed by the point total increasing, likening the points to the passage of time, and I have all I can do not to force the machine into “TILT” just to make it all stop. The flashing lights, the noises of man versus machine, the crazy and foolish expense of those quarters being dropped in to buy more time...

I’ve always hated driving on icy roads and I have never liked arcades much. And I absolutely hate being sad.

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