It’s this time of year that always gets to me, when fall, when there’s just the slightest bit of crisp in the air. Let’s be real here. This is Houston. We don’t have seasons, really, but I grew up in Kansas and now I latch onto the slightest little bit of fall I can possibly sense.
The wisps of fall are just now rolling in.
There are little signs. The pumpkin display outside Kroger. The email inviting me to a school potluck for new teachers, hosted by one of our deans, reading…”Fall is in the air so it’s time to get potlucks underway!”. The end of the Jewish holidays, the steady march towards Halloween. October. [black October?]. Waking up to just the slightest hint of fall in the air, or maybe I’m just imagining it. The sunrise as seen from the parking garage deck of my apartment complex at 6:28 AM.
I always associate fall with settling in. Summer is fleeting, ephemeral, and not-real. People go and do fancy things all over the country, or come home and work, or adventure, or stay put, but either way we are all diaspora-ed until the year starts anew. If life begins again in the summer then it must end again in the summer too. Fall is when life settles into its bones.
My kids feel it. They’re starting to settle into their eighth-grade selves. The social dynamics have been redrawn, boundaries broken or re-established, hierarchies strengthened. My kids know what to do when they get to my class, they know where and when to read and talk and be and feel and think.
And, as much as I didn’t want to believe it…I’m starting to feel settled. To feel like I belong. Maybe it’s the never-ending stream of work happy hours and events. Or maybe it’s the routine of my weekends – Saturday spent running errands and grabbing a precious few moments outside, Sundays spent working at a coffee shop in the morning and school in the afternoon. I joined the YMCA (TFA has a partnership with the Houston YMCA and we get to join for free!). I feel like joining the local YMCA is a very settling-in-y thing to do.
Time just stubbornly marches on. It doesn’t really care that I still don’t think I can teach. It looks me right and the eye and says Fine, you think that, but you wait and see, just wait and see how much you change. Wednesday is Service Day; my co-planner and I organized a speech at our school by a female Air Force pilot. loving the lack of gender roles here. This Friday is a TFA community engagement event – we all had to invite students and parents. The next two weeks are full of PD, for TFA and for my school, and I’m actually really excited about it. Many of my other friends view TFA PD as one more thing on the to-do list, one more thing they have to fit into an already too-crowded day. But I love it. It recharges me, reminds me I’m a part of something bigger, gives me the chance to branch out beyond the little bubble that is my school.
I came home today and realized I’m about 4/7 as exhausted as I used to be after a full day. Small steps. Small steps. I’m trying to purposefully plan in a way to avoid Black October, which I think is partially a real thing and partially a self-fulfilling prophecy. I felt it starting to seep in so I cut it off at the pass. The third week, I have two flex days (meaning I can leave school early), one PTO day (I’m going hiking in a wildlife preserve), and the TFA Houston benefit dinner. Beautiful.
The fact that tomorrow is the first day of October is stomach-churning for millions of reasons, but it also means I have been a teacher for nearly eight weeks now, and in those weeks I have grown lifetimes.