It’s 7:15 am on Sunday morning. I’m awake. In two weeks, I will walk out of the school where I’ve taught for the last five years and I won’t come back. There are things I’ll miss about it. I learned a lot. I saved some money. But if I could trade all of that for one night of complete, restful sleep…I might have to consider it.
Monday through Friday. 8 am to 4 pm. It’s 6:45, time to push that rock back up the hill. Maybe it’ll stay this time. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a bizarre, late-capitalist Groundhog’s Day. I live slightly variant editions of the same day over and over and over again while the cityscape around me seems to flex and breathe in accordance to the flow of investment dollars. When the latest real estate ponzi scheme went belly up, it didn’t hit home values as hard here, buoyed as they are by the university. But all that meant was that the bailout liquidity went into drastically reshaping communities like ours in search of the next profit motive. Sometimes I get disoriented when I walk downtown. I suggest places to go and then realize they’ve been closed for years. When did this get built? Wasn’t that a long time ago?
I’m hesitant to even complain about this life because I know all around me there are folks getting handed worse deals. My chances of starving, dying of exposure, or getting 86’d by the cops are low. I can stay inside where it’s quiet and I have love. But my god, the exhaustion. I find ways to discipline my body to maintain endurance. Weights have been my savior. It’s just one more step in my highly routinized existence. Get up, bike, teach, bike, lift, cook, drink, pass out, repeat. The slow planing away, day by day, year by year, of everything that makes you human. I just want to a night’s rest.
My three non-negotiables for a job have, historically, been as follows:
- It pays okay.
- I don’t feel bad about what I do.
- It’s not boring.
For a long time, teaching seemed like the key to this. Now I’m not so sure. Sometimes work makes me feel like an understimulated cattle dog. I’m sitting there with a child, helping them work their way to a significant realization, an authentic milestone of personal growth. They are struggling to raise that load arm up from below while I put a finger on the effort arm and apply just the right pressure. It’s not easy and it’s momentous when it works and I hate that I’ve become too jaded to appreciate it anymore. Do you know how many fucking six year olds I’ve taught to read? Common currency. Just another step in an educational process totally insufficient to prepare the youth for What’s Coming. Perhaps the only relevant lesson for them and for me: endure. Above all things, endure.
I am coming for that cold lake. I don’t know what I’ll find there. I’d hoped to be able to walk away from the grind but it seems like I’ll be doubling down instead. Yesterday, my dad showed me a spot in the woods where he wants his ashes scattered. A nearby creek whispered all the things we didn’t know how to say.