Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 07 2012

Before the reacclimation.

Tomorrow morning is the dawn of slam time, where I’m aiming to hash out a revised vision, long term plan, unit assessment, and unit test. Check back to see if that happens.

Before that kick can get me running again, get me sprinting through the month, jogging to spring break, then singing and dancing to June, I need to clear my head of all this not-specifically-Dumas-personal-banter.

My favorite Christmas present has turned out to be cousin Lucas driving down with me from Michigan to Arkansas. We arrived at 5am Friday morning; he flies back to Michigan this afternoon. Growing up, Luke was always my favorite cousin. He rappelled me down balconies, threw me into freezing Lake Michigan waves, and always let me ride on the back of his dirt bike. Yesterday he asked if I remembered rolling up in sleeping bags to slide down the stairs of the house I lived in until I was ten.

The whole growing up thing set me pretty far away from any of my family, emotionally and geographically. Living in Arkansas might have been the breaking point I’ve needed for the past fifteen years. Since I was old enough to head out without hand holding I’ve been fairly independent. Didn’t have a problem with family, but didn’t attach any major value to it. At my grandparents’ funerals I felt awkward, standing in a black dress, not crying, watching my mother and her sisters hold hands and sing songs with tears streaming down their faces.

When I lost my own mom, though, I started to get it. Always hits that much too late, right? I can’t even write out the cliches.

Now, the year is ending. Lucas is the second family member from his immediate family that has made it to see my town. None from my own. When my sister (sorry, girl) told me she was bailing on our half-plans for the second time, I started crying in my classroom. The bail wasn’t that unexpected. The crying definitely was.

The past two and a half years, even through and aside from the chaos of teaching, moving, becoming an adult, have taught me a major lesson about family. I love the inbred excuse to be authentic. I love that my family is full of headstrong, genuine people that don’t deny who they are. My grandpa (who reads this, Chuckles I love you) outright says we might not see him many more times; my dad isn’t embarrassed about making coffee at 8pm, going to bed at 5am, and waking up later than me daily; the past two days showed me Lucas is a hopeless romantic I never saw coming.

We watched two movies tonight: Darfur and The Future. Both were horrifically depressing but left me with this inappropriate gratification. Any worry I’ve been housing (over my next job, over relationships, over my ability to sort out my life and feel fulfilled) dissipated when I watched the trauma of other people. Genocide and adultery left me feeling like clay. Heavy and misshaped, waiting for tools, hands, weather to beat me into something new.

I’m not scared, and I’m not as worried as my incessant elaborate explanations and weighting-of-the-options indicate. I’m perpetually surrounded by a huge undeniable family. I’ve set myself up to have the things I need. My back up plan has a back up plan. My life is full of things I love. I’ll always have things to do and I’ll never feel my own age, but right now I know things are going to be fine. If 2012 keeps up what it’s been doing for the past six days, it’s going to be a pretty good year.

4 Responses

  1. Cindy

    Do I qualify as family? I’m sort of semi planning an Arkansas adventure for this spring – I need to dig in the red clay and find some rocks, see some people up in Marshall – and there’s you, in Dumas. I’ll keep you posted . . . you really are one of my favorite living proofs:

    What you put in the world comes back to you.

    • Of course! Yes yes! Come visit! You can read some stories to my kiddos. ;)

      • Cindy

        Spring – it’s a plan!

  2. Kurt (Community Manager)

    Congratulations! Your post has been featured on the Teach For Us homepage.

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