I graduated from high school twenty years ago this week. Last night, while attending the graduation ceremony of the school where I work my subconscious worked out this calculation and presented it to my conscious mind. Twenty years! Twenty years? Merciful heavens.
The twenty-years-ness of it seems to be sinking in today, and I'm a little dizzy with the reaction. How did such an important anniversary sneak up on me unawares? I feel sad today about that big chunk of time, but unaccountably since at every point of life evaluation between then and now, including today, I would say that I'm pretty pleased with how my life has turned out. I wish I had been to more places, but 35-odd countries isn't bad. I wish I had lived in more countries, but 1/3 of my life outside my passport country isn't bad. I wish I had learned more languages, but four isn't bad—for an American. I wish I had found true love, but always knew that was in the hands of God. I wanted to dance more, but there ain't that many dance halls in the bush! Ditto for concert halls and museums. I'm an inventive and satisfying cook, I amuse myself with my thrift store clothes, I'm still in plays, I still always have a book to hand. I'm pleased that I'm getting better and better at the craft of teaching, that I'm not bored or stagnant or stuck in my job or my life, that I've left a trail of best friends and kindred spirits as they and I have moved from place to place. I haven't wasted too many opportunities, as far as I can see, and I have actually made a big difference in a lot of lives—including my own—by the choices I've made. I have no bitter pangs of regret. Yes, I'd have to say, twenty years well spent. Why then does the quantity of decades make me feel so igg?
Today is the first day of the school break, so a certain amount of reaction is expected. I'm still too would up from school to relax and far too exhausted to do anything productive, so I slouch around in a grey-green fog, intolerant of being crossed by any animate or inanimate thing. Within a few days I'll be able to sleep in past my usual time and sit still for more than 20 minutes altogether, but today I'm coming down off the school semester, and I'm not very good company.
I'm commemorating the start of the school hols and my twenty years of graduation by eating a fine vacation breakfast and opening a bottle of the sparkling apple-peach juice made in my home state that is occasionally imported to my tiny corner of the South Pacific. I horde it for special occasions, and figured this morning counts. My breakfast tray has home-made bread and local marmalade, some of my precious Yorkshire Assam, a salad of local fruit with home-made vanilla and home-made yoghurt, and I'm reading Dorothy Sayers while I eat. I'm doing what I can to celebrate.
It's also worth noting that this is June in Ukarumpa and I am, for a rarity, not loosing any best friends to furlough or finish this month. I will shed some tears when I say farewell to some dear people today but none of the core group of my posse are headed for the airstrip.
I also observe that this school break—five weeks of summer (well, winter, really) vacation—is the first I've had in three years. Isn't summer vacation supposed to be a sacred privilege of those who give their lives as school teachers? Yet my recent supply of summer vacations have been subsumed in furlough prep, furlough, and furlough recovery. I'm looking forward to a whole lot of nothing. A whole lot. Lots and lots and lots. In fact, I'm taking my Sayers back to bed.