The public and private school students (who all operate off the same calendar) in our community started school yesterday morning. The school bus stopped outside our neighbors' house across the street and their three teenagers climbed aboard; As I peered through the blinds of my bedroom window, yawning, I'd have expected to see happier faces on members of the French aristocracy as they were pushed onto the tumbrils on their way to a date with the guillotine. None of the three clung to the doorframe with their fingers and had to be pried off, yelling that they don't need no education or anything, but still. Misery appeared to be the order of the day.
On the other hand, we at Our Lady of Good Counsel Middle and High School don't start until September 2. We get away with this by not having teacher in-service days, parent-teacher conference days (I usually just lock myself in the upstairs bathroom and mutter to myself about how I could be doing a pleasant, easy job in a foundry somewhere) and snow days. It's amazing how those things all add up on the public school calendar.
We began our remaining two weeks of summer break by going to the pool at noon. As we suspected, the only other people there were retirees, mothers with toddlers, and other home schoolers. Benches were lavishly available, the snack bar was doing a brisk business in ice creams and tenderloins; I lolled on my bench and read my book, feeling delightfully lazy. I felt so delightfully lazy that I later on felt dreadfully guilty and sat up and finished writing the syllabus for the British Literature class I'm teaching.
I felt that expected pang of sadness that hits me right in the solar plexus at this time of year. The swim club is a cherished place for the four of us because we can go there and leave everything behind. It's like stepping through a looking glass or pushing our way past the fur coats in a wardrobe...magical. I hate the thought of it's being closed up from September until the end of May; driving past the club in the winter and looking at the leafless trees and the forlorn and empty parking lot is always very gloomy. Sometimes, when it feels like winter will never end, I go over there and trundle up the long, curving driveway in the van, the tires squeaking and creaking over the snow. I don't know why. Maybe just to remind myself exactly how much winter stinks? To torture myself with memories of summers past? Now that I've typed that out, it sounds really stupid. I'd better quit doing that.
Anyway, the girls and I stayed for almost four hours and we were all a bit pink when we left. But we were also deeply relaxed and happy. I think I'll try to remember that this coming winter.
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