Monday, September 2, 2013

"We'll fade out to whispers, it's the last days of summer in [Minnesota]"

Tomorrow is September 3, 2013.

My fifth "first day of school" as a teacher.

A day of first impressions. A day of greeting new students. A day of helping my international students feel welcome to St. Paul, to Minnesota, and to the United States of America. A day for introductions. A day for reuniting with old faces. A day for "How was your summer?".

My summer was fan-freaking-tastic, thankyouverymuch. I live my life from summer to summer, and this one felt like the very epitome of my personal motto - work hard, play hard. I spent the 2012 - 2013 school year in a new job at a new school that I loved, but which challenged me to teach three new classes to an incredibly diverse population of students with varying levels of English competency. To say I worked hard for ten months seems like a bit of an understatement.

This summer I needed to decompress from that. To remember why working hard all year long is worth it. To remember why it's okay that I take work home five nights a week and every weekend. Of course, the gratification for this comes all school year long when I build relationships with students and guide them in learning. However, I would be lying if I said I didn't need more than that. I need summer. 

Anything can happen in the summer, anything can be. It is a time for frolicking in parks. For swimming in the land of 10,000 lakes. For a new bike and bike rides. For a new passion for running, specifically at twilight. For last minute trips to Las Vegas because you can and you want to and you are surrounded by people who understand your exact brand of wanderlust. For iced chai lattes and getting lost in books like "Gone Girl", "The Happiness Project" and "That Used To Be Us". For a kickball team of 20 amazing people willing to take a chance on a team where they only knew one person, at first. For two week road trips with your best friend to remind you that traveling isn't just something you do from time to time, but a part of your soul. For celebrating your birthday (twice), in two different states. For learning - through reading, through new friends, through making time for input, through educational conferences and starting grad school. For outdoor music at Summerfest and Basilica Block Party. For outdoor movies in the parks throughout Minneapolis. For spending an afternoon on a pontoon boat celebrating your brother's 21st birthday. For yoga in the park. For a birth month that included seeing (almost!) all of your favorite people on the planet. For seeing six new baseball stadiums on your quest to all 30. For dreaming and wishing and hoping. For real talk and real conversations about what the hell you actually want out of life.

I might not have all the answers to those questions yet ever, but I do know this: We don't pause enough. My summer feels (and sounds) like a blur of activity...and it was, in some ways, but more than that it was a pause to realize how blissfully in love I am with my own life. The people in my life are loyal - to me, to each other, to the people they love. They cherish each other. They understand my sense of adventure, my need for community and the thrill I get from trying new things.  They are passionate examples of the life I want and the things I stand for. They encourage me to be Kristin, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. They love fiercely, with hearts open to possibilities. I am lucky, blessed and grateful - all at once.

As I contemplate the transition from summer to fall, my principal reminded us last week that each first day of school is a chance to create a legacy for students. Tomorrow is just day one in another school year where I will have the opportunity to influence the lives of young adults. To show them, as people have shown me, that they matter. Their thoughts, ideas, dreams, fears, feelings, loves, words, passions - they all matter.

Am I sad to say goodbye to such an incredible summer of memories? Of course. But fall means new adventures, new students and new beginnings. A breathe of fresh air after a summer of rejuvenation. Fall 2013, let's do this. (But first, pass the pumpkin spice latte)