Today is Memorial Day in the States. Memorial Day, as far as the calendar goes, is a day for Americans to remember those who have died serving in the armed forces. Realistically speaking, I’ve learned it’s also a day for Americans to go the beach, have a BBQ and enjoy a drink – or two! It’s the start of Summer, the beginning of the countdown to the school summer vacation.
For me, it’s the last ‘holiday’ I’ll spend in North Carolina. By the time July 4th rolls around, I’ll be on a plane, somewhere over the Atlantic ocean in the direction of home.
So, since today is a day about remembering, I thought I’d look back to some of the best memories I’ve made here (yes, I know that’s a tedious link if ever there was one, but I’m a tired teacher in need of chocolate and a holiday, so don’t judge me).
Every year as a teacher, there are those moments that make you cry with frustration, those that make you cry with laughter, and always a few that make you cry with pride and happiness. I have so many teacher memories from this year that it’s hard to choose just a few. Like the recess memories: the girls in my class talking about ‘booty pants’ (British translation: short shorts), the dance battle outside at an evening event, the girls building fairy houses out of leaves and stones and then arguing with the boys about the existence of the fairies (clue: they’re real). There’s the classroom memories: the picture book that made me think of Peter Kay and collapse into giggles that I couldn’t explain to my kids so that they thought I had maybe had a little too much coffee that day, or the time a cockroach scuttled out from our reading corner and the class dissolved into squeals and I had to find my courage and drop a book box on it (spoiler: the cockroach died). Then there’s the staff memories: the graduation party my team threw for me on the day I would have been collecting my Masters and the tiara they made me wear for the rest of the day, the meeting that started with chocolate M&Ms and ended with Hershey’s Kisses (which, if I’m honest, is how most of our meetings ended), and the countless lunch time laughs over chicken soup and, again, chocolate.
But my favourite teacher memory this year? The day one of my students, who had been struggling with reading and written comprehension, achieved the end of grade reading level with an amazing written answer and a big smile. There’s no proud quite like teacher proud!
Now here, I’m going to find it difficult to narrow it down. During my time in North Carolina I have traveled to Chicago, New York, the mountains and the beach. I’ve visited parks and vineyards and waterfalls and lakes and landfill sites (yes, I know how that sounds, but it was a landfill site turned park). I’ve tasted the delights of new restaurants and explored old graveyards and uninhabited islands. I can’t pick from all those memories. So instead, here’s my favourite picture from all that adventure, taken in the New York public library, which I could easily live in forever. While New York was not quite the wonderland I had dreamed it to be, the library certainly was, and I’m not ashamed to say I would fly there every year for that alone.
The best part of this whole year, hands down, has been the people. I’ve made friends that I know will be for life and so many of my happy memories here are thanks to them. I’ve laughed till I cried and discovered new places and adventures because of them. I will miss them the most.
If I had to choose a favourite memory, I think perhaps making smores in a cabin in the mountains would win. Or maybe staying up until 2am to teach three ladies the art of crochet while being fed chocolate and ice cream and watching HGTV in the same cabin in the mountains. Either one 🙂
Success is a relative thing. This past year in the States has been a mixed bag, as most things are. I’ve had moments where I struggled, and moments where I thrived. Have I made a million dollars? Not even close! Have I gained enough experience to go back to a new high paid, high power, career progressive job? Nope.
But what I have done is made a whole heap of memories that I’ll carry with me into the next year of my life, and beyond. Memories that I could not have made if I had never travelled here, or not taken the plunge and turned ‘travelling’ into ‘living’. My suitcase on that flight home in a month will be full of Macy’s Christmas decorations and North Carolina souvenirs and American treats of varying size and shape and flavour, but what I’ll really be bringing home is memories. And aren’t memories why we do this travelling thing anyway?! Aren’t they what changes us in the long run?!
So Happy Memorial Day, folks. Make some good memories! 🙂