My Path

I need to get out.

The sun is shining and I know I should be outside enjoying the seasonally warm November afternoon. I need to rationalize with myself. Yes, it’s okay to set the book down because it will be here when I get back. And no, I do not need another nap.

I soon find my old tennis shoes on the dirt road behind my house, one of my favorite paths, and I’m walking. Pulling my hood up around my ears, the wind picks up and I’m surprised it’s not warmer. I think about turning back now.

After several days away for the NCTE conference, I’m glad to be back. This path has always given me time that I needed – time to take for myself, to think, and to get my heart rate up for a bit. Thinking back to the many times on the path this summer, I long for the warm nights when the sun doesn’t want to go to bed.

Despite days away from work, my mind jumps to the classroom. It’s funny that, although I took a personal day today, the day is never wholly personal. I think of my students and hope that they will be warm over the holiday. I hope they will have easy access to nutritional food despite several days without school. I wonder if I’ll ever truly be able to reach the hard-to-reach students. Reflecting on the conference, I spend several stretches of the path planning and preparing how class will run when I get back and I seriously consider quite a few changes.

The canal is nearly empty, missing its nine feet of water that make its home there in the summer. It’s gotten cold enough to freeze the small pools of water in the bottom. The cold wind isn’t so bad now that I’ve started to work up a sweat. This might be the last chance I have to get out due to a weather forecast in favor of freezing temperatures and snowfall.

Letting my mind wander, I think about why half of teachers leave the profession within five years. Is it because they want to be full-time moms or dads? Is it because they found a better opportunity in a different field? Did they move and not find a teaching job? I’ll never know and I’m not sure if I truly want to.

I jump. Birds in the ditch to the west have decided to find a different spot quite abruptly. The dirt road is muddy in parts, still trying to dry the last of the snow that fell last week. The hat I’m wearing is doing its part in keeping my ears warm, but I dread what side effects it will have on my hair when I take it off. This moves my thoughts to my closet as I plan my outfit for tonight. We’re going to my favorite restaurant. It’s my birthday.

My house quickly returns to view and I wish my time out could have been longer. I’m glad I decided to stay on the path after all.