I had to set my alarm last night. I never have to set my alarm. I don't like to set my alarm. But, I had to do it so I did and then I woke up an hour before the music began to play. I knew, deep down in my sleeping self, that I was back in the saddle, again.
On vacation, I can get up to see the sunrise and stay awake til after midnight, and never feel the worse for wear. At home, in the daily routine, those kinds of hours leave me limp. Proof positive is living on my shoulders and in my feet today - my head is throbbing and my feet keep cramping. My body is sending me a message; I wish I had time to pay attention.
I was at the bagel store before 7 and at Prince Elementary thirty minutes later. The custodian waved to me from atop the ladder he was using to put the Welcome Back to School letters on the street-side-sign. Ms. P opened the door with this year's pass key, inhaling the odor of dough and sesame and onion and jalapeno as I walked past her, into the lobby where I said hello to the staff... the people who keep the place running... the ones who smile at you when you come through the door.
Walking down the hall to the teachers' lounge, I flashed back to the first time I came to that school. NBC's West Coast correspondent, Ben Tracey, was there, grinning hello as his crew filmed me maneuvering my walker over their wires. It was my first outing on my own; a friend dropped me off and another would bring me home, but for two hours I was responsible for my own well-being.
It was overwhelming and empowering at the same time. I try to channel those feelings whenever I encounter one of the Prince Mustangs. School is big and scary and makes you so much smarter as it pushes you to test your limits and expand your horizons and it's okay to be a little bit frightened. I give out stickers for dimples and missing teeth and shy glances and sparkly shoes and whatever is unique to the little one in front of me. There's something in the air in this school that creates kindness and resilience, no matter who is sitting in the principal's office. It's a place of hope and joy and wonder and they welcome me as one of their own.
I hope you are picturing the big smile I wore as I left the Back To School Love Fest breakfast on the table. My hip was hurting, but my heart was full.
Respite over, I began clearing off the front seat of The Schnozz. Errands had accumulated there, envelopes and packages and notes to myself, but I was on my way to help Elizibeth register for sophomore year so I tossed them into the back. I know where they are when I decide to deal with them.
We waited in many many lines in her high school cafeteria. I judged outfits and tried my best to embarrass her, but Elizibeth has a high tolerance for my dorkiness and besides, everyone knows about you. I like that she's proud to be my friend.
Students don't pay for their books (unless they lose them), but they do pay to take band and photography and theater arts and it broke my heart to see how far our public schools must go in order to offer the bare minimum of instruction beyond the three R's. On the other hand, Elizibeth's schedule includes Chemistry/Forensics and I am here to tell you that no one ever tried to make chemistry interesting when I took it in high school. "CSI??" I wondered? "Oh, yes!" was her reply.
My hip was screaming by the time we walked back to the car; I'd long before given up trying to affect a smooth gait. I galumphed into the drivers' seat and made a plan to take her shopping for school supplies tomorrow. I'll copy her backpack and its contents and drop mine off at Youth On Their Own which reminded me in today's mail that teenagers need school supplies, too. I can't think of a better way to determine what a high schooler might need than to go shopping with one.
We'll shop and have lunch and get the boys to meet their teachers and then I'll drop her at home before I go to Pilates. There will be trips to the grocery store and the physical therapist and somehow I have to repair my washing machine but that's what it's like in the real world. There's a steep reentry curve that has set me on my heels a few times today, but lunch with Sgt. Lois reminded me that lots of the things I have to do are things that I really want to do.
As the Cuters' prayers begin: Thank you God for my nice life.