Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Another blog is on the way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Facing Forward

Victor, my sweet son, now Chelsea's husband. 
I started teaching again this week, two sections of English 101 at the main campus of Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, WA. I got up at 5:15, drove the 25 miles over the hill from Bellingham and walked into class by 7:30.  I listened to music on the way, something that I rarely get around to doing at home. After thirty minutes of Sweet Honey in the Rock or Bonnie Raitt or Rosemary Clooney, I felt a little too awake, and had to remind myself to keep my voice down so as to not scare any students away. By Thursday morning, however, no lyric or chord or shot of espresso could have filled my tank. I taught comatose, trusting my lesson plan to get me through.  I think that it did, in one of my sections anyway.

I've taught before, last spring at a satellite campus of SVC, and in one venue or another for about eight years in California. I like teaching.  Grading papers is not a whole lot of fun, but it's part of teaching, so I try to do it well.  In California, when my kids were teenagers, teaching was a way to relocate my voice to a place where it might do some good.  At home my kids weren't listening, and every time I opened my mouth, their deafness deepened.  So I stayed out of their way two afternoons and nights a week and the rest of the time was often too busy planning and grading to wander through the house checking up on what they were or weren't doing.

Teaching was an avocation, in other words, as writing also was.  My vocation, from the minute I laid eyes on Alex, my first child, was my kids.  But, as you see below in the photos from Victor's July wedding, my vocation has slipped away.  I think of it as an empty park.  I can walk through it, sit down, and enjoy the breeze, but I'm alone there. The people I used to hang out with return only for quick visits--to careen down the slide, or run to the restroom.

This emptiness has started, maybe, finally, to look like space. Maybe I'm beginning to remember how it felt to live just one life, my own.  It's possible that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and ask myself what the day will bring me.  I don't know what's finally shifting me in that direction.  The kids have done everything they compassionately could to tell me it's time to move on. Maybe it was the wedding followed by the new job.  I feel different.

Mom and Dad with the newlyweds Victor and Chelsea.

Plus Mary and Alex.  All of us.

Alex and Mary dancing. (Okay, I made them.) Our dear friends, my kids' other parents, Kevin and Barbara Susco.

Plus my big brother, Ed, standing at right, my nephew, Paul, seated left, and my sister-in-law, Marrianne, seated right.  

Barb and Kevin

Plus Laurie Miller, Warren's sister, and his mom, Mary Miller.

Victor in front, his groomsmen Alex, Warren, and Matt.

My park buddies, Alex, Victor, and Mary.