Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 23 2009


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.

6 Responses

  1. RMMath

    I know the feeling! I went to college out of state and now I don’t ever want to leave Colorado again. Incidentally, I think I figured out that you are from HR… which is where I live now! If you ever want to download about your TFA experience, look me up! I’m starting TFA this fall in Denver. :) Good luck at your charter school next year!

  2. BEautiful campus. I can understand your feelings for it, but I’m glad you came to California to pursue your career. We need young, smart, energetic teachers just like you. Keep that in mind as you travel 101.

  3. chrisb

    @RMMath: I am, indeed, from the Ranch. I noticed your blog up on the site and was happy to see a kindred spirit here. (My mom, also, noticed your site. How funny we are all from the same place!) I am sure sometime soon I will look you up!

    @dkzody: CU is a beautiful campus. The bay area is also beautiful; just in a different way. About 90% of the time, I love the beauty here. But my roots are in the Rocky Mountains and I’m sure that someday I’ll end up back there.

  4. I have the same feeling often, but what I miss is driving North on the 101 (through Santa Barbara) with the sweep of the ocean and the sparse landscape. I feel so hemmed in by trees here in good old NC sometimes.

    Life takes us funny places, doesn’t it?

  5. I’m a California girl living in NYC and about to move to Colorado, hoping to make it home!

  6. Teaching internationally (I am an Australian teacher in an INternational School in Germany) makes you even more homesick for the little things that you can’t find – like proper bleach for cleaning clothes! And, it makes you realise how glad you are to be home whne you are back.

    I love your blog. I’m a new (relatively) teacher too and I love reading all of your experiences. Keep posting!

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

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