Yesterday, I reunited with some people very dear to my heart, and as I stopped and thought about it, I realized they are related.
For starters, my lil' sister came home from studying in Chile for six months. I'm so proud of her for going somewhere off the beaten path, and also incredibly jealous. I've studied in Mexico and Costa Rica, and I'm also a travel junkie. I get antsy if I don't have a trip planned, and I have a life goal of seeing as much of the world as humanly possible. I have a collector's lust for amassing connections with people and unique experiences from as many different societies as possible. My sis traveled throughout South America during her time there, hitting Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay (I think) and the northern desert and Patagonia regions of Chile. She spent the last three weeks of her trip backpacking the Inca trail, and met people from all over the world. While I'm happy for her, I'm also very selfishly jealous. I don't know when (or if) I'm going to get to embed myself in a culture the way that she did again.
As some of you know, I teach ELL at a school with students from many different walks of life. Most of the time I love my job, and I'm fascinated by the diverse set of students and teachers that I work with. I also get to use Spanish every day, something that makes me incredibly happy and allows me to connect with a wide array of parents and students. In fact, last night, after dinner with my sis, I stopped by a local bar and caught the tail end of a summer happy hour (gone way late) with my favorite friends from work.
While we were sitting at the bar, we all started talking about the fact that most of us are now tenured and in grad school. For teachers, this means that many of us have put on the "golden handcuffs"-we're moving up the pay scale, and may be pricing ourselves out of other jobs in other districts. In effect, we've consciously or unconsciously acknowledged the fact that we're all probably going to stay at our school for the foreseeable future. As we talked about this, we all realized we had something in common: none of us, when we took our jobs, thought that we'd stay at our school for more than a year. Not because there's anything WRONG with where we teach, but because we are all (like my sister) travel nuts. We figured we'd spend a year or two in our midwestern district, and then go back out into the world. Many of us considered taking jobs teaching English in foreign countries, and almost all of us have plans to visit another country for an extended summer trip in the near future.
Before I met Kev, conversations like these with my work pals would have sent me into a panic. Committing to a job? Cutting back on my months abroad? Buying a HOME instead of planning a trip? Now, while I might travel less, I have a partner in crime to explore with, whether it's different neighborhoods in my city or different countries on a trip we plan together that has meaning for both of us. While I might not be taking trips that reflect my own selfish goals, traveling with Kev leads us to go places and see sights that I may not have chosen, but that lead me to new and different thoughts. I've learned that part of growing up means expanding your vision of where your future will take you, instead of planning your life through the lens of your own vision.