It’s been a long week. Seriously, since Tuesday I have walked down the school hallways and every fellow teacher I have spoken to has said something along the lines of ‘How is it not Friday yet?’, ‘I’m so tired’, ‘Why is this week feeling so long?!’ There’s comfort in knowing I’m not alone in my exhaustion, at least!
I’ll be honest, I’m so tired right now (and also, hot – it’s been 90+ degrees this weekend) that when I sat down to write a few hours ago, my mind was completely blank. I spoke to my parents for an hour and even said to them that I might not write at all. All I really want to do is fall asleep to the lullaby of a Netflix episode I’ve already seen five times. But I made a promise to myself that I would post at least once a week, and I’m not about to break that promise. So here I am, thinking about what to write that isn’t drivel.
Looking back through my camera roll for the past ten days, I had to laugh. You see, in good ole Blighty we have a phrase: ‘Only in America‘. If you’re a Brit reading this, you will probably have used it, and probably several times, and probably accompanied by an amused shake of the head. This week, I’ve used it a few times myself.
Maybe it’s because I know that only have a few months left on this side of the ocean, or maybe it’s the summer sunshine, or maybe it’s being a teacher on countdown to the end of the school year. Either way, I’m feeling more and more fondness and nostalgia towards my Southern temporary-home. This week when I have found myself thinking ‘Only in America’, it has been in the best kind of way. It’s been in a ‘what an adventure’ kind of way, the true ‘happy traveler’ kind of way. It’s been in the ‘I’m going to miss this place’ kind of way.
Let’s start with Monday night – or Tuesday morning to be more exact. Last weekend, it rained. Now, you will have heard it said that everything is bigger in America. It is (apart from the bathtubs, as my roommate and I were giggling about yesterday, but that’s another story…!) and this is no less true for the weather. Since August, I have experienced hurricanes and North Carolina ice and tornado warnings. The rain does not disappoint, either. It started Saturday (or maybe Friday, weekend days tend to roll into one for tired teachers!) and didn’t stop. These were not Bambi-style drip drip dropping April showers. This was better-get-your-ark-ready-Noah rain. And then, sleeping soundly on Monday night, I was awoken by a noise I only heard once I moved here, the sound of an emergency alert on my phone. 1:12am. Yep, 1:12am. I’m in a flood plain, it told me. There’s a flood warning in effect till 7:00am, it said. At 1:12am!!! Only in America.
My apartment is on the third floor. At 1:12am, my only thought was, ‘let it come, so long as I can sleep’. And of course, I didn’t sleep much after that, so Tuesday was a fun day.
Tuesday which, as luck had it, was my longest day of the week.
We have a diverse population of students at my school, and Tuesday saw a special cultural celebration event after school. I wasn’t enlisted to help, but I was invited to attend. Students in my class were performing so I wanted to stay and cheer them on. But – again with the honesty – by 5:30pm (after being at school since 6:45am) I wasn’t really feeling much enthusiasm for another two and a half hours at school.
But boy was that thirteen hour day worth it! There was food (none of which my food-intolerant self could eat, but it sure looked good), sweet tea (I broke the diet for that one!), African dancing (amazing!) and my favorite part: a Step team. Only in America.
I’ve loved watching step teams ever since I watched ‘Stomp the Yard’ years ago, but there isn’t exactly a wealth of them performing in Yorkshire! Watching them on Tuesday night felt like a perfectly American experience, and I loved it!
And then, Friday. I still don’t understand Fahrenheit, but what I do know is this: 91 degrees is hot! Too hot to work, too hot to stand on a sun-soaked yard at recess, and too hot to travel thirty minutes to a boxing class. It’s just too hot.
Yesterday was even hotter and the humidity was ridiculous. But still, in an attempt to shed the American pounds North Carolina has kindly given me since I arrived here, I went for a walk. I’m trying to tick off every park in my area by the time I head home, and I’m making good progress. This weekend: another nature reserve and another lake. I walked for only 90 minutes on Saturday, starting at 9:00am, and by 9:30 was drenched in sweat. I passed walkers, people boxing on the grass, joggers, everything and everyone. All equally drenched in sweat. Only in America.
Sometimes there are just scenes so perfectly American that all you can do is smile, get your camera out, and say to yourself: ‘Only in America’.
I think I’m going to miss this place, you know… 🙂