American Sicko.

18 10 2006

I have no clue how to dress for the weather here. One minute it is storming, the next it’s sizzling, the next I am bundled in a scarf. I don’t know what would feel more comfortable–to drip with sweat or to be cold and shivery. I have no clue what to wear.  I have heard this all before, of course, living in New England. “Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute!” And it’s true here, too. The only thing that is consistent here is its inconsistency.

I live on the 10th floor. So in the morning, I am warmer than the general population down below waiting for the bus. I try to judge the temperature by trying to see what kinds of clothes the people are wearing as they wait for the bus, but that doesn’t always work. So I mostly wear some combination of jeans and cotton t-shirts. Jeans here are considered dress-up, and thank god for that because I own one pair of regular “dress up” pants and I can’t stand them. I try to look nice, for the most part, but on days like today, it’s all I can do to even take a shower and get to work on time…let alone actually put thought into how I look.

What is a day like today, you may ask? Ah, a day like today is a day when I am sick. I started getting sick on Sunday night on the 14-hour bus ride home from the beer fest. And was really sick last night. Today I have very little voice and my ears and eyes are stuffed full with pressure. On days like today, I have absolutely no concern for my physical appearance. I look, on the outside, like I feel on the inside: swollen, dumpy, and altogether pathetic. I am even wearing my glasses today. That’s saying something.

So I was more than thrilled when one of my students approached me with a gift bag. I was seated at my desk, happily drowning in the cloudy sounds of my own head, when I heard, “Ms. C, this is for you.” I looked up and saw my student extending the bag toward me. Other students gathered around.

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“Teacher Appreciation Day was Sunday. I’m a little late.” She said this shyly and her faced glowed a bit more pink.

I gave her a hug immediately thanking her and asked if I should open it right then. She nodded and I took out a small box. The whole time, I repeated, “I can’t believe this! Wow!”

Inside the box were silver earings. Beautiful circles descending a thin silver post. They are incredible. Of course, I put them on immediately and ran to the bathroom to see how they look. I have been wearing them all day.

I am so shocked by my students’ thoughtfulness. Not just with these earings, which are certainly a stunning portrayal of thoughtfulness, but in everyday situations. “Hi, Ms. C!” they shout down the hallway as they run by me. Some just come in to visit. Kids who aren’t even MY students come in to visit. Other kids have made mix-CDs for me. Others have brought me homemade paçoquinha. Others make drawings, others tell jokes, others read this blog. They write on the board. They tell me stories connecting their lives to my stories. They are the most thoughtful group of kids I have ever worked with.

And so, regardless of how gross and sick I feel today physically, I can take a step to the side and feel really, really good about who I work with.


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