Last month during the stress of teaching, I wrote that I was looking forward to looking back. In my three weeks and almost four days of break, I got my wish. I can now look back at the drama and laugh (I will learn from them).
Leaving Logan, Utah for the winter break (reminiscing)-
The Cache Valley Airport shuttle picked me up at my apartment at 3:30 in the morning. I was eating breakfast (microwavable lasagna and vegetables), my thai roommate was still awake (he's a bit of an insomniac). He waved goodbye to me and I waved back. He returned to his room and I continued eating (most likely, I'll never see him again. I look forward to hearing from him and I'll do my best to keep in touch, however keeping in touch is always a funny and challenging business.)
I heard a knock at the the door. It was Steve, the shuttle driver. "I'll just get a quick drink and I'll be done," I said.
"Do you have any luggage I can put in the shuttle?"
"Hold on..." I went to my room and took my green suitcase.
"Yup!" He walked away. I finished my breakfast and threw the plastic tray in the trashcan. I ran to my room and scanned it to see if I forgot anything. My e-ticket was in my pocket, next to my wallet full of ids, coins, a credit card and a few remaining cash, which I still had since the beginning of the semester. I even brought my passport just in case. Everything was unplugged and locked. I took my carry-on backpack. Outside it was still dark and a little chilly. Some snow covered the ground.
Steve made small talk in the shuttle. We picked up other passengers. I was surprised that he could be so talkative at such an early hour (and I thought I was talkative). His daughter was currently attending USU. She had an internship in New York and Hawaii. She majored in theater set designs.
We were a mixed bunch. A mother and a daughter were going to Africa for the holidays. A man and a woman were going to to Tennesse for job training (they're in the retail business). And I was off to Philadelphia for the break (I had let my guard done because I could- I finished my major projects and I finished grading my students papers, I turned everything in- I was able to relax. I was glad. At this moment I realized how much I missed Philly, my family and friends. Chasing one's dream is difficult).
In spite of the recent precipitation, the night sky was clear. The stars were out and the mountains' silhouette outlined the horizon. Steve started to count the cars that we passed by going opposite us. He explained the rules of the game. He wanted to see if this day was the day he was going to break his record of encountering more than 8 cars/vehicles before he reached the stop light that would lead us to the main highway. We talked about probabilities. Time was definitely a factor, also weather. There was no major snow storm to deter travelers, however, it was still early in the morning (around 4:30). Despite of the time, we beat his record passing by 15 vehicles. After this, he started talking less to me and more with the other passengers. Instrumental Cole Porter and other broadway hits played serenely. I fell asleep.
I woke up and we were entering the Salt Lake City International airport... I thanked Steve and checked in.
Arriving in Philadelphia
The arrival was 30 minutes late. My dad picked me from the airport. When I saw him,I waved to him enthusiastically. He just nodded. He started telling me a story about him and other people waiting for their family outside the airport, and cops. I told my dad that I had spent $130 in the airport mall for christmas gifts and food (I needed to start my christmas shopping). He asked about teaching. I just told him that it was fine, and I continued telling him about spending money. I assured him that I would pay him back once I withdraw cash from my account.
Instead of going home, we went straight to pick up my mom at her work. On the way we stopped by in CVS (I bought christmas wrappers) and Popeyes for dinner to go. Once mom was in the car, we drove on Broadway street and around the Rittenhousesquare area. My dad started telling stories of my mom's driving lessons (about her being pulled over by a cop, having difficulty turning, going around the parking lots and more). I just laughed.
It was weird entering my house. The furnitures were mostly in the same place. Some moved. There were more plants in the front of the windows. I went to my room, and it was even more weird to enter it. I never knew how bright my room was and how colorful. Edel-weiss the bamboo had grown wild. On the contrary, Sammy, the sampaguita, was almost bald (the sight of her reminded me of Charlie Brown's christmas tree). Dust gathered, but the room remained organized and in place. I knew there were so many things I needed to do, but I couldn't help it, I just wanted to sit there and do nothing. I kept telling my self to do something, to do something, to start my list. I didn't, I just sat on my bed and looked around. An hour passed by, and I still didn't do anything. I finally decided to sleep it off. I had been awake since 2 in the morning (I deserved a good 12 hour nap). I was going to start the next day, nice and fresh (maybe I would be able to think). Lights off, I lay there on my bed and prayed. I felt the same way I felt when I got home from my first Fall break of my first semester at SHU. I was relieved that I made it through. Then I started pondering- what if it was all just a dream? If it was a dream, I would be pissed because I wanted my trials and victories to be something, to be meaningful.
Outpour of creativity
This christmas I wanted to make something for my family. I spent three days designing and painting a bowl, a vase, two mugs, and two plates. Even though I had fun painting these, for the most part, effort was overlooked. I later learned that practical gifts were more valued than aesthetically pleasing ones. Before this manifestation, I finished my shopping, I wrapped presents, I wrote to people and send cards outs, I started my mini projects (albums, pictures, reviewing, reading). I went out with friends. Some confronted me and complained about not adamantly keeping in touch, some were just happy that I was back (I liked these meetings more than the former).
One day while walking in Center City (downtown Philly), I felt claustrophobic. I sort of missed the open space and mountains of Logan, Utah (I'm sure when I get back there, I'd miss the crowdedness and skyscrapers of Philly). I liked the feeling of familiarity (walking around the city, taking the bus, knowing the streets, the shortcuts, the RESTAURANTS- it's a wonderful feeling).
My relatives arrived. Christmas came and ended. I heard the same comment I heard last year and the year before and before- how it took a year for christmas to arrive (waiting), how one prepared for this day and it was over in a day. And it was back to WORK until New Year's Eve. Materially, I got everything I wanted for christmas, but I still posed the same question that Faith Hill sang about in the movie, the Grinch: Where are you christmas? The lyrics which stated, "My world is changing. I'm rearranging..." kept playing in my head. Basically, I have lots of redefining to do for 2008.