Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not the Summer I Had Bargained For

When cancer came knocking on the door of my house a few days after school ended in 2010, I knew I was not going to have the summer I had envisioned in the least.  I had dreamed of scooter rides galore, various vacation trips, leisurely reading, plenty of web surfing, and in general enjoying the time off between school terms as I had done just about all of my life.  Instead, my travels consisted of trips to doctors' offices, testing centers, and hospitals.  That summer ended just as all the medical woes had finally been tended to in order to effect a "cure," and before I could turn around the next school term had already begun.

I waited for 10 months to have the summer I had planned to have last year with those scooter rides and blog posts, and anything else I could think of to make up for last summer's misery.  School got out in the middle of June and off I went to Western Pennsylvania to begin my summer of fun and reckless abandon.  (Okay, I hardly ever do anything with reckless abandon, but I can pretend.)  While I was there I received a letter in the mail informing me that I was being transferred to a different school come September.  That news was telephoned to me while I was away at the Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally in Johnstown and it not only put a damper on my day but darn well nearly drowned it.

Granted, there had been some school closings, and we knew that positions would be shuffled as teachers from the buildings that were being closed were reassigned, but none of us suspected that even some of us in established positions within given buildings might be moved around.  Amid tears and breaking hearts many of us had done this four years ago when massive changes and closings were effected.  Now, here I was facing the prospect of doing the same thing all over again – moving what is essentially half of my life into boxes to be transported to a new dimension.

When I took this picture a few weeks ago, before closing up my
classroom, I was wearing a look of accomplishment as I put
the past school year to bed with no idea that I would
not be coming back here in the Fall.
When the news was first delivered to me I was in a place where I would have not felt comfortable letting the tears fall.  I thought of my kids – the kids who I thought were going to be mine for the coming school year.  I had built a great relationship with them this past year in having been their teacher for one subject.  I had written in many of their yearbooks only two weeks before, "Get ready for the best year ever!"  I thought of my scooter rides to school and how the much longer commute might make for fewer such trips.  I thought of all of the things I had moved four years ago and how they would need to be boxed up and moved once again and pitied myself in knowing that I would be the one to pack them and move them.  I thought about how all of that moving was going to take time – MY time during the vacation – and how once more the summer I had hoped for was not going to materialize.  My spirit hit rock bottom.  I needed that time both last year and this year to rejuvenate myself and to be my own cheerleader, looking forward to and planning a fantastic school year, but that time for regrowth would be compromised and again I would find myself hitting the ground running on the first day of school.

Since I wrote my last post here I spent three days in my old classroom packing up all of my things and throwing away the junk I had accumulated over the past four years.  I also hauled most of it to my new classroom.  I still have a small car full of things to take to the new place, and then I plan to take a week off before I start to take things out of the boxes and try to find homes for them in a room whose spaces are still full of the things that had belonged to the teacher I am replacing who retired.

My heart remains a little heavy but I am now beginning to look at this move is a new adventure rather than as a bitter pill to swallow.  Amazing, the resiliency of the human spirit.  I will have new kids to think of as "my kids."  I will have a new beginning at a time in my life when new beginnings aren't that common.  I will have new colleagues, new friendships to build, and a new food service from which to get my lunch!  I will make the best of this or die trying!

And so there isn't all that much here yet this summer about scooter rides.  Hopefully, there will be before I need to tie a necktie around my neck again, put on my best Mr. Rogers smile, and pick up a piece of chalk to write my name on a new blackboard for the first time.

And now for something completely new and different...  (Show of hands if you remember that line.)  There is a scooter group forming locally and hopefully I will get to meet some of the gang on Saturday when they are holding what they're calling "A Rally That's Not a Rally" at a park not far from here.  Ironically, I just happened to meet up with the founder of the group at a local ice cream joint last weekend about two days after having made his acquaintance on Facebook.  I almost heard "The Twilight Zone" playing in the background when we met up by chance like that.

So that's my latest report.  Happy two wheeling to all, and to all a good night!


irondad said...

I tend to think of myself more as a travel trailer these days. When you think of yourself as a house a lot depends on the foundation. In today's world foundations get shaken up more often. Then what do you do?

With a travel trailer you just move a bit and try something new. Like your expression of a new adventure. I call that attitude "rigidly flexible".

It was weird to see the words gang and scooter in the same context!

Joe said...

Good attitude, Dan! And, one of the last things I did before I said goodbye to the old place was pack up the quotation of yours that was on my desk for the past two years. It will be on my new one just as soon as I set everything up. More than ever, I will need to be reminded of it as I start anew.

Okay, not THAT kind of GANG!


bobskoot said...


I know that as we age we are more inflexible towards change and the unknown. If this had been private industry it could have been worse, at least you are still working and not a down-sized statistic. You can still relieve stress by going for a ride, perhaps longer than you are used to. As you say, new people to meet, new students and a new challenge in a new place where you are the new kid.

there is still lots of summer left to enjoy

Riding the Wet Coast