Sunday, June 13, 2010

Return from the wilderness

That could be a metaphorical "wilderness" or something much more literal. Not that I would describe camping around Santa Barbara as a wilderness adventure, but one feels a bit closer to nature when having to be on the lookout for skunks at night or when kayaking with dolphins (the former was true; sadly, the latter didn't really happen, but it sounds so awesome!). The kayaking for me always constitutes one of the highlights of an outdoorsy-beach-adventure-type of a trip. One of these days, I promise myself, I will try surfing, but I think I would prefer for it to be on my own terms. For instance, I would rather look awkward as I struggle in and out of the wetsuit without a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds watching me in my self-conscious splendor.
So, there were some good times, but after a few days of major exposure to the elements, my burnt skin, scalp and toes were crying for a break. Woe to those of us with pale skin and freckles!
And, to be completely honest, I enjoy the camping experience when I am with Michael, our dogs and/or friends. Somehow, spending 3+ days of non-stop so-called fun with students does not have the same appeal, especially when it has already been a long year and when I need a mental break from school and work and people. Camping with kids does not offer that much-needed respite, even though the setting would seemingly offer such a retreat.
I actually returned from the trip completely exhausted and in a bitter mood, feeling unappreciated and disgruntled. So, my experience on the trip did NOTHING to improve my rapport with and amongst the kids, nor did it give me a sense of closure. Of course I realize that the trip is not for my benefit, but I cannot deny that I had hoped for a satisfyingly fun experience. Maybe I would even solidify my coolness factor with some students, if not all. Instead of reveling in fun and uber-coolness, I found myself frustrated and tired. I even wept on the phone with Michael the last night of the trip, and upon my return, I wept again in a colleague/supervisor's office. I was definitely out-of-sorts, since tears are not a normal part of my quotidian experience.
Fortunately, time, rest and good conversations can work wonders when it comes to healing a fragile emotional state (note to self: you are tired at the end of the year).
So can laughter. At the school's Baccalaureate service, which I attend because it is required of me, while there was some grave reflection, there was also much laughter and joy, and my resentment and bitterness dissipated as I congratulated students and shared the happiness that they felt (although my own was deeply tinged in relief) at their many accomplishments.
As they move on, the cycle for me, for my colleagues, will begin anew, but it is certainly time for a break.
Summer beckons, and I must come!


Kim said...

I know all about pale skin and freckles (and moles). I think it's good that you've made the note to yourself to appreciate your tiredness at the end of the year, and your need to recuperate on your terms. You deserve a true break! said...

Sounds like you could really use a break! I can barely handle one child so I have no idea how you do it with what, 30 kids? Good thing summer is here.

Oh, and camping in Santa Barbara would feel like the wilderness to me. I don't consider myself high-maintenance but camping and I don't mesh well.