I have come to believe that the first month of school is by far the most important. I also believe that I wasted mine. No matter how much schooling you get, the only thing that can prepare you for the first month is experience.
I spend most of September frantic and struggling to stay afloat. I am focused too much on the work. I try to focus on classroom routines and expectations, but I haven’t quite figured out what I want those to be. Nothing much gets done. My students somehow learn some of my expectations (though, not by my doing).
September flies by. In fact I am not sure it happens at all. Perhaps we skipped it to stand fully in October. My students are no longer abstractions; they are crazy, strong-willed, wonderful little people. I surprise myself with the speed in which I learn their names and their personalities.
At home I struggle with myself. I have never had to live in such close quarters with myself, and I am sure I don’t like it. Jamie moves in with me for a short while, not wanting to live alone, but just as quickly she decides that she needs to learn live alone. I am sad to see her go. I got used to our nighttime rituals. Having her around the house took the edge off the loneliness.
I look forward to weekends even as I dread them. I sleep as late as I can, and then I turn my 18″ television on for background noise. I spend the rest of my time working on school work or baking. During all of this I still find it hard to get myself out of the house. It will be a while before I find my place in the many gatherings that happen here.
Not long after Jamie leaves I get the flu. I have never been so sick in my life. I wonder, in the middle of the night, as I try to sleep on my bathroom floor, if it is possible that I might die like this. I imagine someone finding me, clothes strewn about me from the many times I have changed; the garbage bag lays on the floor, and the garbage can is filled with water sitting next to me.
For two days I cannot even imagine eating. My body is so weak, I don’t remember what it feels like to be well. After my second day of fasting I call Amanda with a request for soup. I cannot even walk to the kitchen, the thought of making myself soup at the stove is unfathomable. She is so gracious. She even brings a hot water bottle, and she stays to heat it up for me. Jamie also shows up on this day with a few packages of salty, fruit flavoured Gastrolight. It takes three days to get myself back to school. My throat burns, but I make it through the day. I realize during all this that this isolation we are living in has drawn us together.
We are equal in this experience, these friends, that I can no longer imagine life without, and I. We will rely on each other to get through this year.
To be continued…