The green gate, bedazzled with large drops of dew, creaked open and I shuffled into the back entrance of the school lot wrapped loosely in my obnoxiously yellow windbreaker, eating a cold pizza bun from the bakery by the bus stop.
“Ahoj holky!” I called to the teachers standing by the back door – “Hey girls!” Three of them were standing in the misty morning air for their smoke break. It was the week before school started so they don’t have to hide from the children behind the building.
They burst into welcoming ‘hello’s and bright smiles.
“Máš trochu snídani, Mary?” called one of the ladies – “Do you have a little breakfast?”
I giggled bashfully – eating and walking, a very unCzech habit, is something I haven’t been able to quit yet.
Nodding and grinning, I joined their circle and we caught up on each other’s summers briefly before heading inside together.
There. That’s it. That’s how my school year began.
All the stress of late August – all the worries about how hard this year would be, all the anxiety of going through what I went through last year – all washed away entirely, completely and without residue.
It literally took less than a minute to realize this was going to be a new year, a good year; but as the last few weeks have unfolded, I’m understanding more and more how wonderful this year could actually be.
As I’m walking through the 90 degree heat of a summer afternoon that doesn’t seem to be cooling off, even with the rumblings of a storm overhead, I’m trying to remember when the last time was that I sang in English. Oh, certainly, anyone who knows me can attest that I sing all day long in a variety of languages and so-far unidentified squakings. But when was the last time I sang a hymn in English? I ask myself because, until this week, it wasn’t something I realized I missed about home.
Last week was English Camp – the highly anticipated, intensively planned, universally relished event of the summer here for the Church in Modřany and for her friends.
I don’t even know where to begin with this.
I think, I should cut off his head with axe to…to… so he will not suffer…”
Running around like our heads are chopped off, we do it all the time. Don’t tell me that you don’t sometimes feel like the zombie-chicken so often referred to in the English idiom about panicked, hopeless people. Just don’t.
I finished my first whole week of teaching classes to children who don’t understand eighty percent of what I’m saying. This week I have met a half dozen people in a half dozen places and taken a dozen buses to do so. I’ve learned that if you get on the wrong bus it will take you all the way to the end of the line and then kick you off into the rain without even being sorry for you. I’ve started projects I have yet to finish, read emails and letters I have yet to reply to, and put on my running shoes twice before taking them off and falling immediately to sleep instead. Also, I’ve been pretty sick.
And despite the fact that I’m having an immensely good time here, I do tend to feel like I’m running in circles I can’t completely control (mostly because my life is tied to a bus schedule I don’t know well enough to be flexible with yet).
So when fellow teacher, personal guardian and something of a genuine friend – Hanka – asked me if I was joining the teachers for their TGIF celebration I almost said, “No, I have to catch a bus.” In all honesty, I had already missed my bus by that point. I make excuses to not hang out when I’m stressed.
But, I reasoned with myself, were you not telling yourself today how much you hate sitting by yourself at lunch? That it’s horrible and you feel like a total loser eating by yourself in a crowded cafeteria? You need to make friends, honey.