Friday, February 17, 2012

A Nine Day Stretch

The school day had ended. As I packed up folders of correcting work and put away my school laptop, I looked around the classroom to make sure I had everything I needed. I made sure the noisy heater was indeed turned back on so my room would not be an ice box upon my return, and I left myself a few notes on the chalkboard and on my desk, a strategy I had begun several years ago knowing the strange lost feeling I often have upon returning to work after a stretch of days off. Notes that would answer, “What were we doing in each class before vacation?” and “Where do I begin again?”

Once in the car, I babbled on about my day to my husband as we made our way home. It had been a good day, including great talks with my teens who were remarkably quite on task and full of great insight and appreciation for the day’s lessons, despite it being Friday. I gave Eric the recap of each block and found myself getting awfully nerdy again with my ideas on the authors I was introducing to my teens. I’m not altogether sure why I sometimes feel the need to tell him so much about what I do in the classroom. But today, it was as though I had to get everything said before our commute came to an end, to purge and to be fully empty of any residual “job speak” from the workweek.

Lugging my bag into the house I said hello to the puppy and dropped my things on the floor. Would I look at these items at all during the week before that last Sunday night of vacation? Maybe. Maybe not. Now was not the time to decide. My son met me at the kitchen island. “Vacation”, he said with brightness in his eyes. “Yes! Vacation!”, I repeated with a smile. We chatted briefly about our plans for the first weekend and then went our separate ways for the rest of the afternoon, both knowing the joy that comes with having no set schedule for the evening.

I prepped a light supper and watched some previously taped shows on tv. I cuddled with the pup and received a big hug from my daughter when she too arrived home for the start of vacation week. She too met me with one word, “Vacation!”. It seems we indeed had all received the memo on the word of the day. There was a lightness in everyone’s step. Smiles were plentiful. We were feeling free.

It matters not that we’re doing nothing extraordinarily different from any other evening tonight. It’s simply the peace of mind that comes with having a stretch of road in front of us--nine days of being free to break the routine or to select the routine if we choose. Nine days to sleep a little more, to breathe a little easier, to snuggle or to go off in separate directions, whatever we desire. Nine days to step away or to step closer, to move quickly or to not move at all. The first few hours of a vacation are especially exhilarating. There’s nothing like them.

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