The weather this year has not been strange because it seems that the weather in this place is always changeable from one year to the next. One year it starts to snow in November, the next it doesn’t snow until Christmas. It has been wet, but not cold enough yet to snow much. A spitting, a dusting. If the Inuit have 100 words for snow, we in this town must have 100 words for types of weather. Nor’easter, lake effect, drizzle, mist, sleet, freezing rain, wintery mix, spitting, dusting, fat fluffy flakes, the heavy wet stuff, slushy, buttery, slick, bitter. The wind has howled and cut through for the last three days, it makes you cover your skin, and leaves your inner ears aching. It is not cold, really tonight but crisp, clear and still, though there is an inordinate amount of traffic on the road and I encounter a neighbor who seems to have had a bit of the Christmas cheer. The dog and I walk, my legs start to take on steps of their own. Walking for me. It has been so stressful for me lately. Work is always a challenge at various times of the year, the weeks leading up to Christmas are some of the worst. The kids are wired, the teachers tired, kids are fussy, they cry too easily, they get angry and pace the halls yelling, angry. I am already frayed and over tired. The animals are restless, and therefore so am I, my nights consist of closing an open door, or opening a closed one, drugged by doctor’s prescription I literally hold my eyes open with toothpicks during the day, I am cranky, I am on edge. Today was rough, kids crying, because they miss their mothers, because they feel ugly, because they feel like no one loves them. The wild ones are ready to get wild at the drop of a pencil. I come out of my paper closet, I am cheekzilla, they run screaming hiding under the tables except the ones who are one step ahead they sit at their seats just waiting for cheekzilla to get them, others chase after him giggling in fake terror. It makes me calm down, I come out, hey I yell what is all this noise. Cheekzilla cheekzilla. What I say, I just went to get paper what is all the commotion.
See this makes it easy but it doesn’t because later in the evening I catch myself talking to myself. I can’t take it anymore. What? Nothing, just stress coming out of me.
She is sobbing when she enters. I give her a few minutes but then her friend pushes her chair over to me and I put my arm over her shoulder and she leans her head into my shoulder and cries. She literally says word for word what I used to say to myself when I felt badly. I am so ugly. God hates me. No one loves me. I want to die. I tell her I know exactly how she feels. I know how hard it is, I tell her but I love you. So you cannot say no one loves you. L. says I love you, too. And I say can you think of anyone else who loves you. My Mom and Dad. Yep I say see so you cannot say NO ONE loves you. And you know you are not ugly. Can you think of anything about yourself that is good, is pretty. No she says. I tell her, I am kind of an expert on what looks good and what doesn’t and I say I know you probably are like me you look in the mirror and say oh I am so ugly I have a pimple or look at how hideous that mole is, but I say, you have to learn to look and see what is good about you. I tell her, because you know I like men and everything but I have to tell you some day some nice boy is going to tell you, you have the most beautiful luscious lips. She laughs, and I say I mean it one day he will tell you and you will remember, Ms. Gregory told me that someday someone would say that to me. I tell her, and your eyes are just stunningly beautiful. They are says L., that’s true! Later two boys want to fight, the first is a punk, mocking my voice and talking back, and being exceptionally rude, he gets out of his seat and comes over to one of my student’s whose dad died a couple years ago. One of the one’s who cried on my shoulder on his bad day. The two stand chest to chest hands off but ready to fight, another kid whose dad has died intervenes, and I speak up and say C. back down please, be the better man, and he walks away. Later the two boys, listening to my talk with the crying girl, ask what do you do when you are lonely? I crawl into my bed and hide under the covers and cry. My Mom does that he says. Yeah well, its easy to do when you have lost someone really important to you. He looks serious for a second and then always quick witted he snaps back with something smart-ass and we go back and forth a couple times. But I know that the kids at that table have some pretty difficult lives, it isn’t just me coming into the building with a heavy burden.
I have to remember to wait for the rough waters to calm. I ask for patience with myself. I ask to notice the blessings in my life, like the blessings of my students. The blessing of a daughter who has an outstanding work ethic, and is doing so well in school, and who is 20 but one day will reap the benefits of my midnight tantrums, and perhaps only have hers when her burden feels too heavy. I am a blessing in my own life. I have faith, I am charitable, I am thoughtful and intelligent, and I try to be a good, honest, loving, and compassionate woman. Look in the mirror girl, see those sea green eyes, and that brilliant smile, know that you are loved. Perhaps by more people than you know.