Something smells in the back of our refrigerator -- something way back, behind the Oikos and the little tubs of cream cheese and the mayonnaise approaching its expiration date. It hits me every time I open the refrigerator, and I recoil, and fumble around for what I need, and close the door, and do nothing about it.
Will hasn't mentioned it to me, but he must have smelled it, too. And done nothing about it, too.
Baxter smells, too. He's gone from sweet puppy smell to "I'm a dirty boy" smell in a very short period of time. I try to reason with him: But you just had a bath! And then I realize that this isn't true. Time has been passing at a rate I can't understand or appreciate. At home, my Eiffel Tower desk calendar is set on January 15. Baxter's last bath was somewhere around Easter, when my niece was visiting and requested some one-on-one beagle time.
Hang in there, sweetie, I tell him, carefully not inhaling his scent. Only four more days.
Teaching, I sometimes think, is like running a marathon. I have no experience with marathons, of course, but I imagine they each require a sustained effort, focus and determination to reach the end. I also imagine that marathoners cross the finish line and feel at least a moment of "What now?" If you want, you can collapse at that point and never run again. This is how I'm feeling right now with teaching. I just have to make it to the end, and then I can crash.
I can clean out the refrigerator. I can bathe the dog.
It's been a year of forgetfulness, really, a year where I've been so busy I felt like my head was doing the Exorcist spin every few minutes or so. Last weekend, I sat down for an hour-long dinner with Will's family and I was a nervous wreck -- it was the longest I had gone in months without grading a paper or sending an email.Twice in a row I forgot that it was Thursday and Thursday was trash day. Once I took Baxter for a walk and left my house keys behind, locked in the house. Six years of walking the dog at least once a day, and yet I somehow missed this crucial step in the process.
It's not lethargy that keeps me from cleaning the fridge; these days I'm too high strung to appreciate down time for what it is. It's more like ADHD, adult-onset, severe. I've been trying to do everything at once, like a jack of all trades (and master, needless to say, of none). My friend A said once that I was trying to juggle too many things at once -- one mixup, and everything would come crashing down on my head.
The culmination of my crazy life happens tomorrow night, which is both nightmarish and symbolic. I need to be at a community college in Stockton at six for my students' final exam; I need to be in Lathrop (fifteen minutes down I-5) at seven to read names of my eighth graders for their graduation. All week, I've woken up in a cold sweat just after four in the morning, which is apparently the time my brain issues the command: GO! So I do. I shower and blow dry my hair and check my messages and feed the dog and get dressed and pack my lunch and make a list of about fifty things I need to do before sleep that night. So far, nothing has come crashing down on my head.But the possibility is there.
Four days from now, I'll wake up at a normal, non-teaching time -- 5:30, say -- and read the paper and delay my shower for another fifteen minutes and window shop at RueLaLa and be so thankful that I've made it.
I've crossed the finish line.
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