Does anybody else out there ever randomly get hit with a terrible case of homesickness? It’s funny how it can sneak up on you sometimes.
Like one time, last year, I was driving home on the 101 North and feeling fine after a decent Friday workday. I was kind of on autopilot, like normal since I have a reverse commute and there isn’t much traffic. All of a sudden, I realized there were palm trees next to the highway. It totally freaked me out and for the entire weekend I was left with this awful feeling that I was in the totally wrong place and I needed to get back to my wonderful Colorado foothills home.
Normally, I appreciate those palm trees. But that day, I wanted a Colorado Blue Spruce instead.
My most recent bout of nostalgia for my ancestral homeland came yesterday morning during my normal get-ready-for-work routine. I always eat my bowl of cereal in front of the computer at 6:30 in the morning. I check my emails, troll my usual blogs, and read Google News. This is my little way of jump-starting my mind in peace. (I’m not really a morning person- my first alarm goes off at 5:15 and I don’t usually leave my apartment until around 7 because it takes me that long to get up and get ready.)
Anyway, in my inbox, I had an alumni e-newsletter from my alma matter. I usually just skim through these things- I enjoy seeing what’s going on with my old university, but I don’t really have time to read carefully. For some reason, yesterday I decided to actually read the full thing. This edition was about the recent class of 2009 graduation, complete with pictures and outstanding student bios. Well, naturally I started thinking about my own graduation two years ago (it feels more like a lifetime) and all of a sudden, I realized I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to hike the Boulder Flatirons again, breathe the clean mountain air, and give my mom and dad a hug. I really didn’t want to drive over to east San Jose and see the gross, ugly, dead hills they call “mountains” here. I was tired of the smell of the bay, tired of the morning fog, tired of having the same kind of weather all year round.
Man, was it ever hard to pull myself out of that funk. The only thing that uplifted my spirits yesterday was a spontaneous act of kindness from my students. Yesterday afternoon we did a project where we made our own imprint fossils with clay. Naturally, the clay got all over their desks, but I had accepted that fact and was prepared to clean them off myself after school. As I’m wrangling the students into finishing the projects and getting ready to go home, D comes up to me.
D: Ms. Bennett, would you like me to clean off the desks for you so that you won’t have to do it by yourself after school?
Me (in my head): Wha….?
Me (out loud): Yes! Here, use these wipes.
Soon, all of my students who had already finished their projects were pitching in to clean up the mess. The desks were sparkling by the time they were done. It brought a tear to my eye to see them working together so respectfully- maybe I have made an impact on them, after all. That makes all the homesickness in the world worth it.