Words. (I’ve been hiding in pictures for too long.)

I’m back in Michigan, back to real life. A new year at a new school.

After a strong, enthusiastic start to the year, last week I fell apart. Felt crushed by too many things – teaching, commuting, grad school, exchange students, planning for and paying for a wedding. Worse, I was crushed by wanting to be good at too many things, to the point where I was just bad at everything.

In my minuscule moments of free time I’m still sifting through photos of my adventures this summer, and feeling nostalgic about this time last year. I feel gut-aching nostalgia about a lot of things.

But I’m here, I’m doing things I care about, and I am keeping an ongoing list of things that I have found here to fall in love with.

(I have to.)

Relearning Home

Rainy days – rain boots and fairy lights on the slick highway.

Gold light on evenings with the window open to the fall air, with a glass of wine and a little black and white cat purring next to me.

Doing homework or planning a wedding or cooking dinner with el novio.

Carpooling with my Spanish teacher twin, taking turns driving and napping and ranting or rambling about our day.

Standing at my morning post by the parking lot and hearing the pep talks directed at small people climbing out of cars. Okay Ms. Shiny Face, listen to the teacher, stay on green, don´t forget your agenda, I love you.

Passing out a truckload of food from a local food bank to parents during open house – bags of carrots, cabbage, potatoes, watermelons.

The flicker of recognition that I’m beginning to develop in this sea of new faces – names, favorite colors, who likes math, who is really good at gymnastics, who is a little afraid of Spanish, who has a grandma who speaks French.

The kids who fill my “parking lot” with off-topic questions on sticky notes. How much was your cell phone in Spain? Are you good at Spanish? How do you say jet and tank? How did you get those earrings in your ears?

The kids who write me barely legible and vaguely creepy notes. Your ess crepe me ot. I love ro hair.

My 8th graders, who think they are too cool to put letters in my mailbox but have already requested a “Kindergarten Day” where they get to sit on the carpet and sing songs.

The all-or-nothing enthusiams of small children – in kindergarten shirts are either untucked or tucked straight into their underpants.

The Monday morning feet dragging, the Friday smiles.

The unique and almost surreal scenery of Detroit that I didn’t realize I missed – greenery of abandoned lots surrounding the school, delicate church spires emerging from trees, sagging porches populated with young people, beautiful old buildings left empty with their gap-toothed windows. Accidental detours winding past skyscrapers empty and open to the wind, and old houses plastered in paint and broken mirrors.

The leaves with the reds and yellows creeping in with the green. The small, small crucial things that are nearly crushed by the necessary things.

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