I finally had my first “seeing a student outside of school” outer body experience! Check that one off the list!
I’ve been dreading this moment since I started teaching. Since I teach at a private school, our population pools from all over the East Bay, so there is really nowhere I can go to escape, which is frustrating, because I’m usually a strategic shopper for all things retail and groceries. While I love people, from my past and from my present, I just don’t like running into them, because small talk makes me feel weird. So, since I moved back home, where a lot of the people I grew up with either never left or have come back to as well, I have very skillfully chosen the places and times I will go visit the outside world.

For example, I usually shop at night the downtown Walnut Creek Target instead of the Pleasant Hill one, because at the Phill one, I see everyone I went to high school with, or their parents. And although I live right by the Virginia Hills Safeway, I only go there in an emergency, because I am guaranteed to run into eight people I know. And I’m usually always unshowered, in sweat pants, and buying things like Cheetos and tampons.

And under almost no circumstances do I enter the seventh circle of hell known as Sun Valley Mall.

I mean, I’m always very nice and genuinely interested in the people, and everyone is always very nice, its not like there are people out there I wouldn’t want to see, but oh, ohhhh the small talk. It makes me talk in a weird high voice about weather and things like that. Blech.

But my students live all over, and I just knew running into one of them was bound to happen when I least expected it. My greatest fear was that when the moment finally came, I would be either a. drinking world’s biggest margarita b. dancing at some nature-loving festival c. shopping at Forever 21 d. at a doctors office or e. in a bikini.

Its so weird being a teacher now, to look back and think about what I thought about teachers all growing up…I remember when I was in junior high and I ran into two of our teachers on a DATE at FUDDRUCKERS and I thought I was going to puke. It was the wood shop teacher and the home ec teacher, who had given me my only B in junior high because I wouldn’t eat anything with eggs in it and she also thought I had stolen an oven knob (I still get angry thinking about this woman).

And it was such a startling realization that once we students left school, the teachers went on to have normal lives….eating food, shopping, going potty, dating, etc. Remember elementary school? I mean we all thought the teachers slept in the library, ate dinner in the cafeteria, and just waited for us to come back the next day. Seeing them in the real world in any kind of context is just shocking.

So anyway, after all the anticipation, my actual experience was pretty anticlimactic. It was at Target, after school. I was browsing Bonnee Bell lip glosses, with unfortunately only a bottle of wine and Christmas-print underwear in my basket, and I ran into one of my eighth-graders…I did one of those “heeyyyyyy!!!!” then quick shuffle the basket to the opposite hip so she couldn’t see what I was buying….sigh….But she was actually more embarrassed than me, because she hadn’t been at school that day! haha. I laughed.

Then it was weird because the next night, I was at the ice-rink and ran into some MORE students, and one of them looks at me and says “Wait, Miss Weight! You’re wear JEANS!” ….it was in the same tone of voice one might have said “Miss Weight! you just grew a second head!”

In class kids say stuff like that all the time, when they have little epiphanies that I am actually human and occasionally leave campus to do things that have nothing to do with them, like live my life. Its always things like “Wait, Miss Weight, you have a dog?!” “Miss Weight you’ve been to Great America?!” “Miss Weight, what do teachers eat for lunch?”

Its so funny. They’re so funny. I love my job sooo much.

As we enter the Christmas season, and I’ve started getting adorable cards and some gifts from my students, (ranging from “what the heck is this?!” to “OH I LOVE THIS FAMILY SO MUCH!”) I’m really looking back over this last year and just amazed at where my life has gone! Its so different than even just a year ago, but I’m so, so happy. Even when everything else seems to fall apart, even when parts of my job are so so hard, its amazing to feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Hanging out with awkward preteens and teaching them a dead foreign language while loving them as much as I can, the way Jesus does, just totally totally rocks my Christmas socks off.

feliz navidad!