Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A "normal" me

After my first year of teaching in NYC, I took the summer off. I had looked forward to the time off all year and couldn't wait to watch lots of TV, read books, visit the sights, go the the park, just do whatever I wanted. When the time finally came it was amazing at first, but I quickly became bored and lonely. All of my "normal" friends were working, my boyfriend was working, I was the only one who had all this time off. My teacher friends had retreated into their own summer plans and I found myself addicted to Netflix and TV. I went to the park a lot and read, but that was also lonely. That summer was also particularly hot and humid so it was more comfortable for me to just stay at home. The main problem, I realized, was that as a beginning teacher struggling to pay rent in a small studio apartment in an outer borough, I just didn't have the money to do anything exciting and I lacked the enthusiasm to make my own excitement. I couldn't travel, I couldn't even afford to take Amtrak to my mom's house. The summer became a dark and lonely place for me. I remember feeling a sense of relief when the school year started again.

After that summer, I vowed never to have that feeling again. The summer after my second year teaching, I looked for a summer job. I didn't really care what it was, but I wanted something that wouldn't be too hard, and would pay just enough to afford an international vacation. I applied for everything remotely adequate for this on Craigslist and landed the perfect summer job. I won't disclose what exactly it is in order to maintain my anonymity, but it involves minimal amounts of teaching, teenagers (not at-risk), and lots of fun. It doesn't pay a lot and the hours are flexible. I can work more if I want and less if I want. The best part is that I can keep coming back to it every summer and I have for the past 3 years. I have also traveled internationally (for vacation) every year that I have worked there (twice one year).

Even though I am currently working nearly full-time hours at this point, it is so different than teaching in a public school. I truly enjoy my hour-long lunch break in the park. I can relax completely and read a book or listen to my ipod surrounded by people and nature. The workplace is located in a great neighborhood where there are lots of stores, shops, and restaurants. I love window shopping and sampling different foods. I get home after work and never ever stay late and the best part is that I don't bring my work home with me at all. I have no emotional baggage from my day. I feel so free at the end of the work day. I have planted a garden, made dinner almost every night for the past two weeks, read a novel, and visited a museum since summer (and my summer job) began. I have made dinner plans with two different friends this week without even batting an eye. During the school year, going out to dinner was so hard during the week because I was always exhausted. I feel like a normal person again. I feel like me. I wish that I could have this feeling all year long.

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