In That Moment, I Swear We Were Infinite

Birthdays have never been a huge deal for me, and in some ways I dread them.

When I was younger they always meant my two best friends coming over, swimming until we were sunburned and pruney, and “Happy Birthday” with polka dotted candles. I was always happy to receive school supplies and new backpacks or lunch boxes as gifts (thanks to growing up with a teacher for a mother), and it always ended with a barbecue.

It’s odd to think back to those days, to look at old photographs of little Elizabeth posing beside birthday cakes reflecting my favorite things; flip flops, butterflies, yellow icing spelling out my name in cursive.

Growing up on a farm, everything was constantly in motion. It was loud, busy, hay being thrown in the fields, corn being cut down, my mother yelling at us to constantly “stay out of the driveway!” when customers and tractors and mac trucks hauling sawdust were seen driving down the driveway. It was rare when things were quiet, the horses weren’t stomping their feet for sugar cubes, my brother wasn’t driving up and down the compost piles on the four wheeler, us kids weren’t stealing spray paint from the shop to decorate our latest wooden swords.

I loved that on my birthday, always at 5:00pm, life kind of stopped for a little while. For about an hour the farm was quiet aside from “Are you 1, are you 2?” It was all my time, the greatest gift of all.

Throughout the years that excitement kind of left. Maybe it does for anyone, that fear of getting older gets greater, the realization that I still have so much I want to accomplish on my life list that’s left unchecked. I thought that I’d have done more by now; loved more, been more adventurous, felt more alive.

I think that it’s really difficult to live up the expectations that you set for yourself when you’re a child. It’s so easy at 8 years old to say, “when I’m 25 I’ll be…” and honestly feel in your heart that there’s absolutely nothing that could possibly happen to change those plans. “Heartbreak, what’s that? Illness; that’ll never happen to me. Financial difficulties? No way. I’ll obviously be married to someone who looks a lot like my Ken Barbie doll and is also a millionaire.” I can’t go back and remember my exact thoughts when I was that age, but I’m sure those are fairly accurate.

Now my birthdays are a lot different. I’m happy as long as somebody takes me to the ocean and feeds me watermelon. I don’t like cake, and can usually convince my grandmother to make me blueberry pie if I ask her sweetly enough. I don’t like presents, they make me uncomfortable. I still want to swim until I’m pruney, be in the sun until I’m sunburned, end the day with a barbecue. I’d prefer to skip the “Are you 1, are you 2’s..” now though.

I don’t feel like I’m old, but I do feel like I’ve let down my younger self who thought without a doubt that I’d have lived a lot more by now. Sometimes I feel trapped here, like I’m suffocating in this city that I wished I had left a long time ago, even for just a little while.

It’s not that I’m not happy, because I am. I’m happy with my career and who I am. I don’t feel like I’ve grown to be someone that my parents and grandparents are disappointed in. I feel like I hold myself to high standards, put my heart into everything that I do, go out of my comfort zone more than I ever used to. I feel like I’m independent, which has always been huge for me; I don’t ever want to feel like I have to rely on another person to survive. I laugh way too much at myself, I watch silly movies, have close friends that I adore, sing off key at concerts until I lose my voice, dance under the stars in sundresses at 2am after drinking way too much wine. I feel like that’s living.

I just hope that in another 25 years I don’t look back at myself now and get disappointed in the expectations I have for myself. I want to have traveled, I want to be married, have had children. I want to still love teaching, sweet tea, and music. I don’t want to ever lose sight of who I am or what I love. I don’t want to ever be that person who changes themselves for anyone. I want to have people believe that I’m a wonderful person and mother, I want to be involved in people’s lives, be someone that another person is proud of. I hope that when people describe me they can say that I’m happy, kind, alive. I hope that I’m no longer associating myself with people who make me feel terrible about myself, who make me believe that I’m not enough. I hope that I have an amazing relationship with my family and that I’ve shown those closest to me that I trust them and how much I love them. I want to be so happy. More than anything I want to be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

I don’t want to ever say, “If I could have…” ever again. Or “Someday I will..”, or “if I had enough time I would..” Because I might not have a someday, and I’ll certainly never have infinity, but I do have right now. I have these moments and that’s pretty amazing.

I guess 25 really isn’t that bad.

I’m Begging You To Be My Escape

I’ve never been huge on believing in things like horoscope signs and fate, the perfect signs that never ever seem to happen, or miracles. I’m used to being let down, things not working out according to my carefully thought out plans. I usually have to factor in something going wrong into almost everything that I do, because either I mess it up or it happens all on its own.

People ask me what my sign is, and nine times out of ten I stare at them blankly until I register that they want me to tell them that I’m a Leo. As if the specific time of year my parents decided to get extra close and “surprise!” I happened, is some kind of sign of the universe that I have control over. I tell them that I’m an August baby, and recognition is all over their face and they say, “ohhhh, yes, that explains it.” Explains what? Am I missing something? How does the month I was born define who I am? I honestly don’t understand.

I like yellow flowers and sappy movies and sweet tea on hot days, but does that show up in my horoscope? Does it say that horror movies make me cry, that the thought of death scares me, that I like to dance outside during the first snowfall? No.

It’s not that I’m negative or have a bad attitude, I just..I guess I just feel like for the most part I’m in control of what I do in my life. Or that I want to be at least. I like being a puzzle to figure out, I want to be interesting enough that someone actually wants to take the time to get to know me. I don’t want someone to feel like they’ve got me all figured out simply because I happened to be conceived at a certain time and pop out in August. How is it fair that someone thinks they can know me when I don’t even know me? I want to be in control.

Until I’m not.

According to my students I’m a clean freak. They’re right. I like to have my things look a certain way, because it’s how I organized them. I did that, it was up to me. I like things neat and orderly, and when I leave and then come back I like to have things in the same place. I like teaching because I have a schedule: Monday – Friday, weekends off. I like being able to say “no”, to be able to pick out my own groceries, to make my own decisions, to believe in God because I feel safe and comfortable and alive when I think that there’s someone up there that’s bigger and stronger than me, than all of this, than everything that’s so terrible and miserable and heartbreaking.

I make my bed every single day, listen to the same music when I’m sad, have to smell every single candle wherever I go. If I go off the grid then you can almost always find me at the ocean, I cry when I’m let down, I don’t like ice cream. It’s really hard to get me out of my comfort zone, even trying new foods is a challenge for me. People often tell how adventurous I am because of my love for travel, but to be perfectly honest it’s really difficult for me to do. I love it, but change isn’t easy for me. Even change that’s temporary. These things can’t be seen in any horoscope.

I guess maybe I’m looking for change that won’t be temporary, something big and different and amazing. I’m scared. I get scared when something comes along that changes this for me, my ability to have control over things. I hate feeling vulnerable, that someone could break me. I don’t want to be broken.

It’s this insane feeling, being surrounded by thousands and thousands of people and having one person out of the whole sea of people make you feel like you exist. I don’t think a horoscope can tell you that either.

Maybe there is such thing as fate and destiny, horoscopes and psychics. I don’t know, I really don’t.

But I don’t think that people should put all their trust in signs; in 11:11’s and shooting stars. Sometimes I think that people help to design their own fate, let things slip away all own their own, no matter how long you stand outside and wish and wish and wish on every single star in the sky. Sometimes I can get really desperate and pathetic, and there’s nothing I can do to stop this no matter how much I try, because it’s like I’ve lost complete control of myself. I want to be that cool, calm and collected girl you read about in books, that’s all, “Eh, whatever. Something better will come along if it messes up, if things don’t work out.” But that’s just not me. I end up too invested, and make an absolute fool out of myself every single time when it blows up in my face. I don’t want it to. I can’t fake things, I just can’t. If I feel something I want to show that person that I’m real, that I mean what I say, that they mean the world to me. I’m not going to pretend they don’t.

I think that all anyone really truly wants is hope, and maybe that’s what some of these things offer. If I could choose one thing to believe in out of all of them I’d choose fate, because sometimes things just happen that take your breath away and there was no possible way they could have happened without a little bit of help.

But help from who?

I know absolutely nothing about stars or astrology signs aside from that I love to lay outside in the middle of the night and look at them. But maybe there’s something there that I just have missed. Maybe the universe is full of signs that I just have been missing this entire time.

All anyone really wants to hear is that they’re enough. Maybe that’s why people are always searching for signs, because it hurts so much when they’re told that they’re not. Everyone is just searching for some kind of sign or reason to why they were let down, no matter what it is, and they need to focus their energy and time on moving on to finding happiness, and ultimately themselves.

Sing Like a Bird, Dizzy in My Head

You know that moment when something happens to you, and in those exact seconds time seems to freeze and you honestly think to yourself that this is it. “This is a moment, right now, that’s going to change me for the rest of my life.” You don’t know how or why or really what’s going to happen, but you just know that something is big here. Something life altering and huge and you can’t help but crave the possibilities, and it just makes you smile.

I honestly can’t remember another time in my life where I felt like this. You know, the way I’ve always felt like I should, like there was a piece of me that was missing, incomplete, closed off. And now I just feel different; there’s a feeling in my stomach that hasn’t gone away in days, and I don’t want it to. Like happiness and possibilities and just genuine excitement. I can’t even explain it.

This past week has been the best. I traveled to New York City with my Mom as a temporary vacation from life. I’ve been wanting to go to the city for months now to see whether or not it’s a place that I could see myself living, and I really value my mom’s opinion. She kept saying things like, “really think it through, Elizabeth” and “it’s so fast paced”, and “it’s so different from home.” All of which are code for, “for the love of God, please don’t move to New York” in my Mom’s not so subtle way. But I needed to find out for myself.

Nonetheless we had a really great time. Despite the city smelling like vomit a majority of the time, I really loved how alive it all felt. It was busy and chaotic and loud, but I liked how different it was from Maine. I liked the yellow taxi cabs and the lights at Times Square, the way that the buildings all looked like tiny legos from Ellis Island and how there were gardens full of flowers in between the cement. I liked that I could buy mango in ziplock bags off the street at midnight, and sit on the window pane in the hotel and look down at the street below to see everything just alive as it was during the day, despite it being 1am.

My mother is a country girl at heart, the city is completely not her thing. She doesn’t do cities, and came along to please me and that’s about it. I think that if it had been up to her she would have chosen somewhere like Greece or Scotland. As a result, she spent the entire trip about two steps away from a fanny pack and NYC embroidered visor – constantly aware, nervous, clearly missing the solitude she so often finds at home.

My Mom and I are really close, closer than normal I think, and she’s always shared my love of adventure and travel. This trip was particularly hard because I know she didn’t want to leave my Dad, but I think it’s important that she step away from all of that every once in a while to regain both clarity and a new perspective. It’s important to have breaks from things like that I think, so that when you go back to it you’re at your best. About daily she wanted to give all our food away to the homeless, walked away from busy intersections without her phone on more than one occasion, and explained to me several times that “everyone is somebodies baby” meaning that I shouldn’t be ignoring those less fortunate. It was a jolt for me; just the overwhelming reminder how kind my mother is, and how she has such a great heart. It’s hard for her to understand that not everyone is like that. That sometimes the homeless want money for drugs and not her Olive Garden breadsticks. I know this because she tried to give them away, and the look on her face when they denied her broke my heart.

We spent an extra emotional afternoon at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which is by far the quietest place in all of New York City. I cried when I listened to phone calls to loved ones from the planes, saw licenses, old glasses, mangled firetrucks and slabs of the buildings, bloody shoes and Home Depot receipts. And I don’t know, but for me it kind of put things in perspective. It was a reminder that not everything is solid, not everything is absolute. Not even 100 story buildings made out of steel. I was only 11 when it happened, and I remember the day really well but I didn’t quite get it. I didn’t process it all, but when I sat outside and traced strangers names with my fingers on the granite memorial I just suddenly got it, it’s like I could see it. And if it was me that day, and I was the one making a phone call, who would mine have been to? Who would it be to now?

Over the week I experienced the subway, miles and miles of walking in extreme humidity and pouring rain, and drank my weight in Starbucks iced coffee. We walked through only a portion of the largest Macy’s in existence before becoming overwhelmed and leaving, ate a Cannoli from Carlo’s Bake Shop (ick) just to say that we did, watched Aladdin on Broadway, and got to see the actual Hunger Games costumes and props at a museum. We stayed in an absolutely disgusting hotel that made me sick because the mildew was so strong, and paint from the ceiling actually fell into my hair when I brushed my hair. But it’s okay, because I had an amazing time with one of my favorite people in the whole world.

The smallest parts of life are my favorite. The unexpected, completely out the blue happiness that you don’t go searching for. Like the text messages I received from my mom on the bus because she was late and we couldn’t sit together; “the woman beside me keeps talking about ‘yo mama’, honestly girl, give those gums a break!” followed by, “she has such bad breath and I feel bus sick…not a good combination. It’s vile!”

Like in getting lost in the middle of Harold Square, and eventually just sitting down in the middle of the city in lime green chairs. In watching the sunset while we were stuck in traffic in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. In cheesecake at midnight, ferry boat rides on hot days, getting told by a stranger that your smile made their whole day. In getting told you mean the world to someone and knowing they mean it, in good morning text messages and boys with southern accents.

I created some really great memories this past week with my mom, and despite such a fast paced city completely out of her comfort zone, she was a great sport. I’ll forever remember her highlighting our routes in the hotel, hunched over an old map while she tried desperately to remember the names of the streets because I wouldn’t let her take it out in public. I’ll remember sitting next to the water down by the ferry boats and listening the waves. I’ll remember being trapped on top of double decker tour busses in 100° heat and standing on the street looking up at buildings so tall, and thinking that I had never felt so small in my entire life.

When I first planned this trip back in April I was convinced that I was going to move to New York in a year, but I’m torn. I loved it, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t feel like that was it, you know? And maybe people don’t really get those feelings, I just know that Maine isn’t it for me, and I honestly don’t think that New York is either. I just haven’t found my niche yet, but I will. I still do want to move in a year, the destination is just a little bit cloudy.

But for right now, I’m content just being really really happy from where I am.

Achilles Heel

There are many times when I have looked back on decisions that I’ve made and wished that I could hit “redo.” I’m witty and sarcastic, which is often times a recipe for disaster, and suddenly I’m hit with a wave of guilt and “I can’t take this back’s.” This has always been a problem for me, so much so that my mother used to say that I could cut someone down with words in an instant, and needed to be constantly aware of what was coming out of my mouth. At a young age I didn’t understand what she was babbling on about, but it didn’t take too long for the silent treatments and unspoken angry glances from those closest to me for me to understand what she was talking about.

There are photos that I’ve seen where I wish someone would have told me how ridiculous I looked in an outfit; that wind pants and Olympia Sports t-shirts were never a fashion statement, turquoise strips in my hair made me look like a mermaid, and that perming my bangs was a massive mistake. 

There are friendships that I’ve lost throughout the years that have devastated me, times where I have been horrible to those closest to me, and have put myself in unhealthy situations more times than I can count.

In college there was this guy that I worked with that I adored. There was never anything between us, but he was always there for me. The type of guy who brought me medicine when I was sick, held my hair when I drank too much and threw up in the bushes outside, hugged at while I cried and cried and cried after yet another breakup with my at-the-time boyfriend and always insisted that I could do better. He meant the world to me, would constantly make fun of me for preferring Ray Allen over Paul Pierce, and would make me play “Horse” outside at my apartment complex until it was so dark I could no longer see the hoop. It wasn’t until he asked me on a date that things changed for me. I immediately knew that our friendship was about to change; the carefree times together were going to be different, because I just didn’t feel the same way. I wanted to, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be with someone that great? But I just didn’t.

And I was right. The air between us shifted and I found myself avoiding him, making excuses not to hang out. I told him that I didn’t feel the same way, and the reaction on his face broke my heart. Then, one night I invited him over and a group of us went to the local boarded up mill across town to investigate the broken down building. We had to roll through dirt and busted boards to make it inside of the building, and it was dark, late, and terrifying on a warm night in the middle of May. I hate being scared, and this place creeped me out as I walked through tools, wood, graffiti and clothing from a time way before my own. I remember not even thinking as I grabbed his hand, and he held mine right back. I thought that maybe I could force myself to have feelings for someone who was so nice to me, because I wasn’t used to it and it made me feel special.

Later that night we drove home, and I smiled even though I was nervous and uneasy and knew what was going to happen. He kissed me and I felt nothing. Nothing. All I could think about was what I could do to get him to leave, what an idiot I was for hurting him like that, that things didn’t feel right, how uncomfortable I was. But I let him kiss me anyways because I was selfish and knew that by asking him to go, that I would also be saying goodbye to my friend for good this time. Eventually he did leave, and I spent the whole night tossing and turning wondering how on earth I was going to tell him that I just didn’t feel the same way, that I had messed up, that I was so, so sorry. I knew I had to.

I didn’t mean to hurt him, I didn’t know that by kissing him I would get all the answers that I was looking for. That sudden pang of no, this isn’t supposed to happen that I didn’t know would be so strong. I thought that maybe if I tried hard enough, that maybe I could develop feelings for him, that maybe I could fall for a guy who I knew adored me and was so good to me. I loved him, just not in the way that he wanted.

Because when you find someone that you feel that strongly for you just know. There are signs, connections made even before that first kiss that you can’t ignore. Similarities, an easiness between two people that’s just there. An instant desire to talk to someone all the time, hear their voice, kiss them, touch them. You sort of lose control of everything you’ve tried so hard to keep together.

As much as I regret what happened on that night in college, there are times where I think that if that hadn’t have happened, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. We all have to have bad dates and relationships with no spark to realize when something good comes along, to get that reassurance of, “oh, this has been what I’ve been waiting for this whole time.”

Maybe I wouldn’t be as independent as I am today, or have that ability to tell someone that things just aren’t going to work out after all if I hadn’t gone through that. Maybe I needed to make those mistakes to learn more about myself, what I desire, what I’m capable of. I never would have realized the impact of telling someone that you don’t feel the same, how heartbreaking it can be coming from sides, because trust me, I’ve been there.

Finding someone that you actually enjoy, can more than tolerate, that challenges you every day is really fucking terrifying. But it’s so magical to me, that there are people out there that are just as attracted to you as you are them. You make them feel weak and you feel it right back. That bring out the best in you, and they don’t really see the worst, and if they do, they don’t care.

I guess I’m just looking for that person, you know? And I haven’t found them yet, and so I’ve just been content to be alone, rather than be with someone who isn’t right for me. I can’t mess someone’s life up like that, it’s not fair.

Blink of an Eye

It strikes me as so strange how quickly life can change its course. As simple as from Friday to Monday – a whole different perspective in the blink of an eye.

I’m a planner, I always have been. After high school I wanted to get a degree, after I got my degree I went to teach, I want to get married around the age of 30. Or something like that. I’ve always had this mental list of have-to’s and by-the-time-I-turn-30’s. In a way I think that it’s a bad thing, me needing a timeline, because it makes it difficult for me to accept change. To let new things in that I didn’t have penciled into my schedule. But then again maybe these mental lists forced me to push myself, create an identity for myself, be the best I could possibly be. Or not.

But then there are some things that step in and change things, all of your schedules and clear cut plans and you don’t even know where it came from, how it happened. These things don’t fit any mold, any schedule, but yet there it is, clear as day and it knocks the wind out of you. I don’t always know what to do when this happens except to just let it happen, maybe because these moments are so rare. You didn’t even know that you needed a change, didn’t know you needed a moment to come sweep in and change things and change you but then when it happens, everything becomes more clear. Better. More vivid.

I’ve spent so much time lately keeping my guard up, my opinions closer, and my secrets never spoken. Have you ever met anyone who changed this for you? Changed things about you that you try so hard to never show anyone else? Suddenly that guard comes down and you’re vulnerable. I have, and it’s terrifying.

Terrifying but addicting. Is that a thing?

Maybe it’s the universe, or God’s way of saying, “nice try, but you’re really not in charge, and you’re ridiculous for ever thinking that you were. You don’t actually have everything figured out.” This instance, I can’t really say that I’m complaining too much.

I think that some of the best moments happen when you’re not planning them to, when they surprise you, catch you off guard. And then in the end you’re left kind of breathless from the hype.

When I was young, I can remember sitting up and praying for something or other that I desperately wanted. In 7th grade, it was for a boy in my Language Arts class. He was a dreamboat at age 12, full of corny jokes and flirty responses to make every girl nuts. It was the first time I had felt so strongly about a guy, and I finally understood that butterfly feeling as I laid awake at night wishing he would notice me. I prayed, begging for God to allow him to see me but he never did. It was the first time I remember it being painfully obvious that God was saying, “no” and maybe that broke my heart more than he did.

Now looking back I’m so glad that the slimeball in 7th grade never gave me a second glance, but when you’re in the moment sometimes you just don’t see things that way. I know I didn’t when I watched him ice skate with another girl on Valentines Day, even though I can’t ice skate and stayed on the bleachers to sip hot cocoa with my friends. Instead, I just knew that I was lonely and miserable and sulked for a while – oddly enough, that still happens a lot.

And then without knowing it, life happens, and today becomes yesterday, and yesterday becomes last year and you’re just living. It’s crazy to me how quickly these things happen. How fast life happens, plans change, my carefully thought out plans get rewritten.

What about when God says “yes” before you have even asked for anything? What then? I’ve had these moments happen to me once in a while, and sometimes they don’t work out but I’m never sorry that they came. I never am upset with that little slice of happiness, I’m just so glad that it happened  at all.

It’s a nice feeling to be this happy. To feel like even though things have hurt lately, have been trying, that this feeling – right here, right now is possible. It’s almost like a small miracle that you didn’t know you needed, but when it happens you can’t remember what it’s like to not feel that way.

But I’m so thankful that it did. I’m so thankful for out-of-the-blue happiness that I didn’t even know I needed, but that I so obviously did even though I wasn’t searching for it at all. These are my favorite parts of life.

Those Times When I Wish I Wasn’t A Teacher

I read an article today that was fabulously written. It focused on a teacher who sometimes wishes she didn’t want to become a teacher, because sometimes it’s hard and exhausting and more work than she’s ever experienced in her entire life, and I was just like….yes. Exactly.

Sometimes I find getting myself frustrated with people who are my age. Maybe frustrated isn’t the right word. Let’s change it to jealous. Yeah, sometimes I wish that I could go out and celebrate Thirsty Thursday again. I miss that weekends actually meant two entire days off. I miss the naive thought that I once had that teaching meant regular hours, Monday-Friday 7:30-3:00. Ha!

Like when they ask me to go out and get drinks and I’m just like…I have 18 piles of correcting, have cleaned up 3 piles of projectile vomit today, and I don’t even remember my drive home today because my mind has turned into mush. It’s not that I don’t want to go drink hard cider and remember that I’m only 24 (oh, yeah) because I do. So, so much. But, for the most part my priorities have changed.

I get up at 5:30am every morning, and spend my hour commute on the way in planning every little piece of what I’m going to complete that day at school. I finish school by 2:15, stay after each night to get myself situated and then grade papers for 2-4 hours (depending on the workload) when I run around and try to make dinner, pack my lunch, return emails, make phone calls, and usually think about how insane I am for taking all of this on while telling myself, “you’re not stressed, you’re not stressed, you’re not stressed.” Then I spend the remainder of my night making (sort of) interesting lesson plans for the next day, spelling packets, spelling words, weekly newsletters, and rubrics. I’m in bed, lights out by 10:00pm, and usually toss and turn for an additional hour while I wonder about whether or not students ate dinner that night, bathed, got permission slips signed and homework done, and if they are going to come to school well rested the next day.

So, basically what I’m saying is that when I signed my contract, I also signed away my social life.

So, yeah, sometimes I do wish I didn’t want to be a teacher. But I do.

For some reason I want to tie shoes, trace students outlines in colored chalk, pick melted popsicle up out of the carpet at snack, read stories about spider man and magic kangaroos, and french braid children’s hair who live in single parent families in the morning. I want to hear about what my students got from the easter bunny, what they’re going to do over the weekend, and help their imaginations run wild each day during writing.

So, fine, I have to get up at 5:30 when I would rather sleep in until 8:00am. So what that my veins are filled more with coffee than blood? Yeah, I had to say goodbye to my social life that included bar hopping on Saturday nights and staying up until 1:00am. I traded those nights out for nights in with Netflix and takeout instead because I am so, so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open past the eight o clock episode of Big Bang Theory. I signed up for this, but even more than that this is what I love.

Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate a margarita after 5 hours of grading persuasive essays. Sometimes I lesson plan and wish that I were outside, and sometimes I spill late night coffee on my students papers because it’s the only thing that is possibly keeping me going.

And sometimes I leave school and I swear there is glue and tape and glitter and slobber stuck in my clothes, hair, and God knows where else. Sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs after hearing, “Miss Higgins, he said…! Miss Higgins they took my…! Miss Higgins she said…!” 7,3876 times a day and leave the second that clock tells me I’m allowed to go home.

Yesterday I heard, “May the 4th be with you” about 43 times. I reminded my class that the M in Miss Higgins doesn’t stand for maid about 15. I gave out 7 hugs, 4 “I love you too’s” had to send two students back to the end of the hall to “try again quietly please,” and reminded one that, “no, you can not bring your hermit crab in tomorrow to show the class.”

I repeat myself even in my sleep, dream tattling and whining, could wallpaper my apartment with “Dear Miss Higgins, I will not do that again’s.” I am sick of telling students that “no, you may not spider man crawl up the side of the bathroom stalls” and explaining that it’s absolutely not acceptable to have snickers for breakfast.

But I have to tell you, during the first snow of the year there is absolutely no where I would rather be than making paper snowflakes with my students. There is no where else I would rather be than giving my students hugs on the very first day back from vacation when my they can’t wait to tell me (in extreme detail) every single thing that they did (and ate) every day of vacation. There is nothing I would rather do then be doing read aloud Monday-Friday at 1:45. There is no where else I would rather be when their gooey arms wrap around mine on a particularly hard day of theirs and they cry and cry and cry. Honestly, no where.

When I first decided to major in teaching I had no idea that it would require more than just multiplication tables, the Maine song, and reading groups. If that was the case maybe I would just have a regular 7-3 day. I had no idea that I would spend my days yelling and cursing at the photo copy machine that broke for the 23rd time that week. I had no idea that I would become such a professional at getting that one little stray staple that got stuck and is jamming up the entire device. That I would need how to put up 9 girls hair in a 7 minute period during lice season and zip up all 18 students in record time after they very carefully put their winter jackets over their gloves and their fingers just refused to cooperate during the winter. I didn’t know that I would spend my days reassuring, soothing, mediating, decorating, crafting, planning and reminding little ones how much they are loved.

A lot of times I end my day with sore feet, no voice, and am more exhausted than I ever, ever thought that I could be. My butt is usually asleep after sitting on the floor for so long, I often times have a caffeine headache, and am thinking really hard about swinging through Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee #2.

But I have to tell you, Thirsty Thursday has nothing on me.