Monthly Archives: September 2019

The View

an evening view

I have been thinking about my last post and I feel I need to paint a more accurate portrait of our current status. The last post shows the view from our rooftop terrace. That really is the view but there are two things that I feel may have been overlooked by the singular perspective. 

First addendum. My mattress currently resides on the floor. Sure, we have a great view, but I can literally roll out of bed onto the floor. Last night, my dog curled up next to me. That was a sobering moment. If my mattress is on the floor, do I really sleep on a giant dog bed? But 3 hours in the local IKEA store on the morning we got the okay to move into the house could only yield so much fruit. We had four carts (aka trolley) full of necessary items to sustain life in a house. I’m talking ice cream scooper, pots and pans, and other necessary housewares. We were fortunate enough to grab a few things for every room, including mattresses and sheets. Bailey was the only one ready to pull the trigger on a bed.

I was walking home from the bus stop the other day and thinking about what we left behind. We have rugs, and beds, and headboards, and a drawer full of kitchen utensils. I remember putting a large plastic box of Band-Aids into an even larger cardboard box to store in the garage in Nevada. I think it safe to say that counts as surplus. Thankfully, Bailey was insightful enough to bring some Band-Aids with us. I chose another pair of shoes above a box of Band-Aids which is ironic because that leads me into the second issue that needs rectifying.

I brought with me several pairs of heals. It’s what I wore to work in the States. But I drove to work everyday. Here, I ride the bus. Which also means I have to walk. No one would want to walk a mile in my shoes. I don’t want to walk in my shoes. My feet are killing me. I have had a neon blue Band-Aid on the back of my heel for a week now. Not covering a blister but an actual area where I rubbed the skin off. We traded the rural country drives, for the slick streets of London and the sometimes running to catch the next bus. The amazing rooftop view comes at a price.

The four of us hung out up there yesterday afternoon. It was a sunny day in London and perhaps the last one for a while. We can see a long ways into the distance. Alternately, if we look down, we can peer into the lives of our neighbors. It reminds me of the Hitchcock movie, “Rear Window.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, the moral of the story is don’t be a voyeur. We could easily be drawn from the expansive view by the daily, often mundane routines happening around us. But thanks to Mr. Hitchcock, we know that generally doesn’t end well. 

Here’s what I see when I look down, metaphorically. I’m super stressed at work. There are a couple of classes where I have spent far more time teaching behavior and impulse control than math. It’s so frustrating! And in my forty plus minute commute to and from work, I have time to reflect. There are days when I struggle to see anything more than the mundane task of behavior management. It becomes a cycle where I feel ineffectual as a math teacher and then I’m falling down the rabbit hole where my current life choices come under intense scrutiny. I could be in Nevada with a bed off the floor, more kitchen utensils, and a house full of stuff, not to mention several pairs of boots I left behind. 

I know I’m not alone in this. Literally, I have three other people here struggling on different days with similar issues. We have replaced the familiar with everything that is not familiar. And in the moments of high stress, it’s so important for me to take high ground. To stand on the terrace and look out as far as possible. In the future my foot will heal. In the future, the consistent and patient care of my students will reap reward. In the future, the unfamiliar will grow to be familiar. In the future, I will have a bed off the floor. While I can’t live in the future, I can allow a bigger perspective to breathe hope into the chaos of the present. And I’ve found an amazing thing happens. It isn’t limbo to live between the chaos of the present and the hope for a different future. I think this middle ground is a garden that grows gratitude. I’m far more grateful for the smile or greeting from a student. For the moments of laughter with colleagues. For a seat on the bus on the way home. 

I find myself saying this a lot. Through different stories or blog posts, I apologize for repeating myself. But I need to be reminded so often. Reminded how my perspective, what I choose to look at, makes all the difference.  

P.S. Since I started writing this post, we have obtained beds. Just didn’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily. 

Sometimes it’s about the destination

our view
The view from our rooftop terrace

If you are flying off to some tropical location, do you reflect on the flight to get there? Is there some life lesson in the movie choices you made to endure the crying child three rows ahead of you and the rude man behind you kicking your seat? 

If you get a flat tire on your way to work, do you stop to analyze the metaphorical lessons while some stranger (saint) stops to help you change your tire?

We have made a point to wax eloquently about the journey. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who graced us with the oft-used quote. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” We have proceeded (myself included) to alter this quote to something like, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” 

And by alter, I mean butcher. Sometimes, it’s about the destination. Sometimes, it’s about gritting your teeth, taking multiple deep breaths, and pushing your limits to get to the other side.

We moved out of our house on July 31st, so we could rent it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We could travel through California, saying good-bye, staying with friends and family, then arrive in the UK, find a house and settle in. 

We just moved in today. For those of you unaware of the date, or reading far beyond the publish date, that’s five and a half weeks. Over two weeks was spent in hotel rooms. With 12 suitcases. And not suites. Just a room. With four people. And two dogs. One bathroom. I don’t even think Picasso could encapsulate the sheer stress of such an arrangement. 

Five and a half weeks was a journey. I’m sure at some point, we will reflect on the journey. Possibly there will be laughter. Possibly. But at the moment, there are genuine sighs of relief. There are four people spreading out and maximizing personal space. We are a family again, cooking in our own kitchen, making our own plans. Closing doors to keep out the world.

And know, that the last five and a half weeks, there has been teeth gritting, deep breath taking, and pushing on despite how we feel. And for those of you who are smug, wondering if I get the lessons we have learned, the answer is yes. But I won’t even start a conversation about this until I have showered in my own shower for five and a half weeks. That seems fair doesn’t it?

Oh, and our son left today for boot camp. In three months I will be a Marine Mom. And for the record, I will be telling him (only in letters as I can’t talk to him for three months) to grit his teeth, take deep breaths, and keep pushing because he too will get to the destination. Because, sometimes, in the moment, it’s really just about the destination.