The last two months of my life have been absolutely nuts. I mean, it’s just been crazy. But, it has all rounded out fantastically.
I started my second teaching practicum placement six weeks ago. A few weeks before then, I met a girl down in Toronto. Two weeks into the placement, I had an interview with the Toronto District School Board. Sometime in there, I accepted a teaching position in the UK. This past Saturday was my thirty-first birthday. The girl decided it wasn’t worth the effort, and the waiting, a couple of weeks ago.
I was doing my placement in a grade five/six class, here in Mariposa. Luckily, the school isn’t very far from my apartment. But, then, nothing is very far away in this town. Planning for two grades was a lot of work, though, and I’m glad I didn’t have to schedule driving time into my day, like I did when I was teaching down in Etobicoke.
The students, as I imagine it would be like at any school for a new teacher, are fascinating people. I used to think that working in an office was difficult, because you had to manage all sorts of personality types. 26 preteens, however, are much more diverse and idiosyncratic. They are also much more enjoyable to work with.
They get into fights, verbal and physical, with you and the other students. They braid each others hair during lessons. They lose pencils regularly, even while looking for a pencil sharpener. They have to pee a lot, or so they claim. They are more honest than you’d like them to be. They talk incessantly.
They talk so much that you have to wonder what animates their lives when they can’t put together four sentences for you about a five-day weekend. What they hell do they talk about for six hours a day, in addition to all of the time they spend texting with one another after school and during weekend sleepovers?
During those six weeks, I tried my best to maintain a life outside of teaching, but I quickly learned that it was next to impossible. Every story I had to share was somehow related to my days at school. Whether telling a story about a student or complaining about the amount of work that I had to do, my life was all consumed by school.
I would go in to Toronto and have a night out with my friends or stay here and go to my local, but I couldn’t ever escape the fact that I was becoming a teacher. I did find that asking people about themselves and requesting that they share a story with me was helpful in engaging them in conversation.
Unfortunately, the girl read me well. She, soon after we met, remarked that I am inconsistent. She’s not wrong. Also, the amount of time I couldn’t spend with her, or thinking about her, was too much. She’s not being unfair in feeling this.
A nice girl, she is, but I simply can’t deliver.
Anyway, this past weekend was a nice way to round out a long journey toward the completion of my Bachelor of Education, and the arrival of my thirty-first birthday. I went down to Toronto on Friday afternoon to visit the UK Visa office. I drove back up to Mariposa to take a nap. I wasn’t going to go back down, but my buddy insisted that I do. He’s very convincing.
I packed up some clothes, put out some cat food, took the winter tires out of my car, and headed down. When I arrived, I parked and got in a cab to the Gladstone Hotel for the opening night of 40 Years. An Exhibition of Hip Hop Portraits, that was part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Surprisingly, it wasn’t busy. I was expecting it to be a big party, but only my friends and I were on the dance floor. The music was pretty good, I admit. I missed the actual exhibition, because I arrived about three hours late, but I heard that it was quite good.
It kind of was the best way to spend that Friday night. I’ve been so tired lately, that any more excitement might have killed me.
Saturday morning, I got up around ten and went out to buy my buddy and I a coffee. We watched some soccer football, and then got ready to go for lunch and then to Costco. We were to pick up our other friend on the way, but he fell back asleep so we brought lunch to him. He didn’t feel bad, nor should he have, because it was me that they had made plans with. Our trip to Costco took about two hours and cost about $200. But, as you can see from the picture to the right, it was totally worth it.
Returning from Costco, we picked up a dozen bottles of wine from another buddy of ours. He’s sober but works for a wine shop.
Around seven, on Saturday night, the birthday-slash-graduation celebrations began. The vat of sangria was ready, and the caesars were replaced with bottles of beer and gin-based cocktails. Friends started to arrive around eight, and the music was drowned out by comfortable conversations by eight-thirty.
I don’t see my friends as often as I would like, but they always show up. It’s times like Saturday night that make me very proud to have such wonderful people in my life. Between the alcohol and the company, all I wanted to do was celebrate each of them. But, of course, I’m a bit of a loud-mouthed drinker.
Understanding who I am, and what my interests are, my friends had arranged for us to go dancing. So, around 11:30, somebody rounded us all up and we headed out. I don’t remember the place well, but I know that I danced because my legs are still a bit sore. I left my phone at my buddy’s place that night, knowing that I was in the right mood to make a bad communication decision.
Eventually, we all made it home, later than most 30-somethings should, but earlier than we would otherwise have.
On Sunday morning, I got up around ten and went out to go buy coffee for me and my buddy. We met our other friend for a late-brunch, followed by a coffee in the dog park at Trinity Bellwoods. There, we met a nice lady named Sandra and her dog, Hunter. We talked about dogs for a good while before bidding farewell to our temporary friend.
I had no idea that I could talk about dogs for so long. Perhaps six hours a day, text messages, and weekend sleepovers wouldn’t be so hard to fill with conversation.
During my drive home, I thought about my weekend, and the people who made it happen. Tears of joy welled in my eyes but none fell, and I was reminded of how I haven’t been able to cry in nearly eight months (since my grandmother’s death). My thoughts quickly reverted back to my friends, and how they are the people who support me and celebrate my successes for and with me.
They may even be inclined to read the stories that I will write. (It’s a shitty segue and ending, I know, but how can I not post a picture of the pen that two of my dearest friends gifted me?)