“I’m kind of worried,” said Deborah, scanning Piazza Navona one more time. “She’s like two hours late.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Omar reassured her. The newlyweds watched the crowd shift and change around the elaborate water fountain with the mini-Washington monument and creepy drowning horse sticking up out of the middle.
“Did she check a bag? Maybe it got lost.”
Deborah shook her head. “Wouldn’t she have messaged us if she was stuck at the airport?”
“She could be stuck in traffic on the bus or something.”
“Maybe.” Deborah bit her lip. “Maybe she went to the apartment first and saw we weren’t there and went looking for us…”
“Should I go back and check for her?” Omar offered. Deborah shook her head again.
“I don’t know,” she said. “But this is Mary, so most likely she’s lost and confused somewhere out there.”
And lo, 500 yards away, just around the corner and sitting in a sidewalk café, I was on the verge of tears and desperately trying to get a signal on my phone.
I remember when I first fell in love with the idea of being a teacher. I was reading an American girl book (Molly, if anyone cares) and the school teacher was this pretty young woman who had a fiancé off fighting in WWII and none of the kids asked her about him but they all admired her ring when the sunshine would catch it through the window. The teacher was composed and lady-like. She was the pinnacle of elegance, grace and tenderness, even wisdom.
She was also fake.
In my experience, teaching has been nothing like that American girl book. It’s been every shade of brutal, humbling and heartbreaking.
My first day, I was so lost and confused. Forget the cultural differences and struggles that come with adapting to teaching in a foreign country – I was homeschooled which means that I hadn’t stepped foot inside a real school until I came to teach. Like, it’s a terrifying experience, okay?
Imagine your first day of kindergarten or first grade or whatever, and you’re scared because you don’t know what to expect and your parents are leaving you for some inexplicable reason and you’re worried that no one will ever tell you when it’s okay to eat your lunch. Now take all of those feelings and combine them with the first-day-at-your-new-job feelings and literally it’s impossible not to physically feel a piece of your soul shrivel in fear.
It’s hard to believe I just finished a whole year at this school – I spent the first month hyperventilating in my office between classes thinking, “I am so bad at this job.”