Summer Schooling

Blue Skies

I can’t believe how fast this summer is sliding by. It’s been in the low 80’s (instead of the high 90’s) for a few days; I needed a jacket last night when I was out, and a blanket in bed. This is the time of year when I would usually begin feeling the creeping panic that heralds the return of early mornings and lesson plans. Instead, my anxieties are tied to a flight date, waiting for an elusive visa, and goodbyes.

I have been busy, but in the best of ways. I have been scraping by on babysitting, housesitting, and some photography gigs. I took the city to court (after a big towing mess) and won, which was incredibly empowering and also will help the aforementioned income. I am gradually organizing and packing and getting rid of things. Around and in between all of that, I have been able to experience a lot of Life Lessons… otherwise known as Really Good Things.

#1) Using Another Language.

This may sound like I’m pushing my own professional agenda, but I think part of the secret to enlightenment is in new languages. I have had some incredible conversations in Spanish – I am hungry for practice and I know my rusty grammar needs tweaking. A few of the best and deepest conversations I have had have been in Spanish – about God, about spirituality, about grief, about relationships, about dreams and goals. I remember when I was in Spain a few years ago, and my roommate and I doggedly tried to stick to Spanish, even in our room alone. It got exhausting, as immersion always exhausts you because it is unceasing, but also because I felt stuck in small talk. I lacked the eloquence I needed to talk about anything that really mattered. Now, I value my stilted attempts at meaningful conversation in Spanish. Talking about real, important things in a new language clarifies them in some ways, because you don’t have cliches or your own pre-packaged ideas. You have to fight through with the vocabulary you know, and rethink what you are saying, and break out of the lines you have been walking your whole life. You are forced to push through to what matters, even if you have to twirl circles around it with broken syntax.

#2) Night Swimming.
That has happened a lot this summer. We have been driving out past the streetlights, down winding roads, and stumbling along dirt paths into darkness. And when your eyes adjust and the water opens in front of you, with the fireflies and the starlight and the rubber-band voices of frogs, you become suspended between the cool water and the cool air and you won’t care about sunlight anymore. (Also, sometimes you run into other strangers who are just dark shapes in the water, and who want to talk about literature. So far we have only met cool people. Please don’t let any assholes in on the secret.)

#3) Getting Some Kid Perspectives.
I’ve been happy to have a pretty Grace-full Summer. How is she four already? She was born around the time I was getting back from my study abroad trip to Spain, which doesn’t seem that long ago. And now she is old enough to call me out on being too silly. I have also been babysitting a six year old girl this summer, which has been pretty great. Six is an age that is generally very creative, very excited, very silly, and very wise in surprising ways, and this girl has a special dose of all of the above. Spending time with one six year old is different then the necessary orchestration of approximately thirty creative, excited, silly, and wise six year olds (and is 99% less stressful, as it turns out.) We went swimming last time I was babysitting her (during the day, in a public pool – night swimming is not for the young) and she kept yelling for me to go further and further out, so she could swim to me – splashing towards me with water in her eyes and a smile so big that it was probably holding her up on its own. She always told me to stay put so she could swim on her own, and I always followed her anyway, and she always screamed “Catch!” as soon as she got afraid, but as soon as she felt my hands on her waist she wanted to push off me and swim out further. Then we got home and instead of the usual bedtime story I let her help me wreck my journal. We poked holes in it, wrote down some signs, chewed on a page, and threw it down the stairs. She was captivated, and went right to sleep after.

#4) Live Blues.
My boyfriend’s parents gave us their tickets to go see Taj Mahal play in Ann Arbor last night. We didn’t know anything about him – other than some last-minute research – and at the show I felt a little embarrassed to be completely clueless among a crowd of people who had obviously been loving his music for decades. As it turns out, he is an amazing musician who puts on a very dynamic live show. Live music always makes me very happy… though currently I am on my porch with coffee and a very long Taj Mahal playlist, and that isn’t half bad either.

I always have some half-cooked ideas about what I want to write about, and usually it trails off into caffeinated rambling. My apologies.

I leave the country in three weeks.


2 Responses to Summer Schooling

  1. Chelsea says:

    this post made me tear up. thank you for letting us in on your life. ❤ how did you find out about wreck your journal? i've not heard of it til now..and am thinking that keeping a journal (rather than say, posting status updates on facebook) might be a little more rewarding. it could even be like, anytime i think of a short little blurb that i want to post for the world to see, i could write it in there, and after a month i could share the best of them. i don't write enough for myself. do we do much of anything for ourselves anymore? even knits, stamps, they are for hopeful sales, right? i think you've had the space this summer to revel in the space between, where hobbies aren't necessarily forced into profit-making tools so far that it is unenjoyable…even in the midst of 900 photos that need to be sorted. 😉 your present came today, and i want to have wine with you before you leave (what are you doing tonight? maybe clay and i and you and wes or whoever could come out/go swimming/porch wine/something wonderful?). i'm so glad you had fun last night – i knew it had to be good if it was at the ark.

    and once i move out there i can pick up with juna if they need. sept 1st our lease begins.

  2. saracita says:

    My mom gave me the wreckable journal – I like it. I’ve been writing a lot on paper this summer – but I always have, since I was twelve or so.

    I want to see you, too! What are you doing tonight? Come to the lake?

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