There I am, limbs loose and happy, proud of myself for going to the gym when I really didn’t want to. I step into the square foot that is my bathroom, strip down, remove glasses, reach to throw something in the trash can*, when ALL OF A SUDDEN IN MY VULNERABLE STATE I see the blurry outline of a cockroach the size of a $%^@#ing cat sprint towards my feet.
I scream bloody murder, tap dance my way up to the toilet seat, which is thankfully down, otherwise I would have ended up in the bowl itself, being half blind.
I reach for the can of Raid, which is NEXT TO THE TRASH CAN the beast just ran from, he’s just throwing it in my face, and I start spraying. And spraying. The tiny room fills with fumes. I keep screaming.
My roommates come check on me, snapchat the event, confirm the roach is meeting his death under the sink, and offer sympathies.
Then today it was Sports Day, which was a beautiful success – we learned how to golf, fence, play badminton. We played soccer, we had churrasco, we sweated our brains out and as teachers, went hoarse corralling and encouraging and disciplining Kinder-12th graders in the 100% humidity until we were canceled because of thunderstorms.
I came home after work, took a brief nap, walked 2 miles round trip to the store to get well-deserved wine, and came back to a roomie saying “the good news is we have electric and internet . . buuuuuut . . . . .”
Yup. No water. I was drenched in sweat. Thirsty. On my period. Grumpy. Hadn’t washed my hair yesterday and hadn’t shaved in two weeks and we have a beach event tomorrow. BUT being the smart I sometimes am, I had stockpiled old 2-liter bottles with tap water because actually the water goes out quite a bit here. I was disgusting, so I grabbed two 2-L bottles to take in the shower with me.
I began. I was staying calm, trying to conserve, decided to skip conditioner and just rinse the shampoo. Then I realized that the rinse from the new green bottle I was using was very fizzy and smelled of coconut. Yep. I was rinsing with soda. All you can do is shout for roomie help, right? Oh, life. Roomie brought me another 2-liter and I managed the suds out of my hair. So now we know. At least 6L of water to shampoo this ton of hair.
We’re nearly out of filtered drinking water, and when I drink the tap water here, it makes me poo orange liquid (and I can’t even flush that at the moment) so I am sticking with the wine I luckily stock-piled on the way home from my walk today.
It’s been busy here in life. Spirit Week, Fitness is Fun Month, Sports Day, boat tours, birthdays, some other stuff I’ve forgotten because busy.
People have decided if they are staying or leaving next year. Emotions are high and shuffling. I’ve realized my decision to stay here in Rio actually means I’m only a little over half-way through my time here…July 2017 (unless something crazy) is the next time I will be not living here. I got a gym membership and the internet bill is now in my name so you know me and Brazil are in a serious relationship.
And then? But then? Oh, then . . . I’ve thought about making a go at writing for a living again. I’ve thought about selling handmade Christmas ornaments on the beaches of Rio. I’ve thought about child life certification and working in pediatric care like the rest of my fam. I could teach abroad in Hong Kong with some good friends of mine, could come back to the Bay and teach there. Teaching is always there. But…teaching…sometimes…
I taught for three years (junior high Latin and Spanish, no less) before I went to school to get my teaching credential. I completed my program while teaching. And often, while reading endless articles and textbooks with education buzzwords and acronyms, writing responses, engaging in online cohort discussion, I thought to myself, “man…this material barely scratches the surface of all the extra stuff that you do as a teacher.”
No one tells you that you will be scrambling to come up with costumes for bizarre events, or spend an hour googling tasteful 70s fashion to help the 5th grade girls, or making midnight runs to buy spray paint because you came up with an epic idea at the last minute.
No one tells you about the hours you spend emailing, in meetings, debriefing, lesson planning, grading, sitting on committees, listening to your colleagues ask questions that were already addressed in the email they obviously didn’t read.
No article addresses schmoozing with parents when you’re trying to walk past them to the loo or the copier in the precious 10 minutes you have, or balancing the delicate social structure of the faculty lounge, or how to hold your pee for six hours, or the polite way to express how out of this world difficult a student is on report card comments.
No professor ever gave me the secret of how to handle a student confiding in me about being raped, or his mom’s suicide in the bed with him, or her sibling with cancer, or how their dad sleeps on the couch every night.
I’ve never read an educational journal that covers kids sobbing over losing their teeth, or learning Santa Claus isn’t real on your watch, or explaining why one can’t just sit there with one’s hands in one’s pants all class. And how do I explain that chocolate milk doesn’t come from brown cows. Or what racism is. Or how to tie shoes. Or how to comfort a child whose parents leave for weeks at a time.
No one tells you that if you’re really called to teach, it will take everything you can give it, and then ask for more, and even when you’re at the end of what you can give, you will want to give it more.
And the only thing that makes it worth it is kids. Kids running up to tell you they finished their homework, or finished their lice treatment, or have printed out a list of 50 jokes to tell you because they know you like jokes.
Or the one parent out of a hundred who will email a thank you for a job well done, making the whole week worth it.
Or the one friend who says “hey, you’re doing a good job at this.”
Maybe, sometimes, we talk ourselves back into the thing we were considering walking away from.
If you haven’t heard it lately and you need to hear it today…I’d run a three-legged race with you on Field Day. I’d share my icee with you if yours fell. We’d be friends til the end.