This is Where I Want to Be

It’s been a rather quiet several months on here, at Leadmewhere.com. It’s not been an accident, really. And truly, there has been much to live. January, February, March brought student teaching in a 4th grade class in the north suburbs; 19 students, one beloved cooperating teacher, and long hours of planning, preparing, and reflecting.

As March faded into April, the pace of life become near-frantic and uncertainty, deadlines and decisions flew past, one after the other with barely a moment to rest. I agonized over writing cover letters for jobs that didn’t seem quite the right fit. I interviewed for a job that would only last two months. A relationship ended. I got the two-month job, becoming a full-time kindergarten teacher only three days after ending my student teaching. I moved out of the home of the pair of professors who taught and mentored me for years, and welcomed me with open arms into their home for the duration of my student teaching.

I remember what I wore on April 20th, my first day teaching kindergarten in the city, but many of the other details of that day- and the ones that followed- have slipped away, melting, blending together to form the eight weeks that I spent eating, sleeping, breathing- even dreaming- the care and education of 13 little children. Their struggles, voices, accomplishments, and futures consumed me, and I didn’t stop until June 10th, when those tiny people graduated from kindergarten.

I breathed, then, and even took a roadtrip to Ohio, in which I listened to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the car, spent four days with the Jen and her sweet family, and attended a wedding to which I was not invited. Once back, I dived once more, for another year, into the planning, the preparation, the excitement of WOW Camp.

Family trips to Michigan are the order of the day in August, and it was 2am when Stevy and I finally rolled into the garage last night.

Now it’s the middle of August, and I’ve three weeks until school- and my career as a 5th grade teacher- officially begins, but I was at school today, and I know that there is work to be done, lessons to be planned, a room to be set up, even now.

There’s been so much, and there will always be so much, because this is life and it’s not meant to be spent simply willing the hours to pass. I’m doing and I’m going and I’m learning and I’m living, and really, it has been good.

But this page, the hundreds of posts I have written, are here because in the living, in the learning, I also want to remember. I see scenes that sear my heart with their beauty, and capture my imagination with what has happened, what might happen, and I want to remember that. I live moments, experiences, days, that overwhelm me with their significance, even in the mundane, and I want to capture that, record that, write that all down. And this, here, is where I do that. And I never want that to stop.

So yes, I know it’s been sparse. I know the words have been few here. But the moments have been so very many, and I treasure the opportunity to write, even though what I say is so small when compared to what I see, what I hear, what I live. And I know that it will not always happen, I will not always find the time. But when I can, when the lights dim and the hour is late and it’s quiet all around, this is the place I want to be. This writing, this remembering, this celebrating and savoring, is what I want to be doing.

~Natalia

All the Other Things

Oh I look forward to the days

when class prep

and job applications

and grading

are not the things that keep me from writing,

from living,

from dreaming

in this space.

Of course, there will always be things

that come between me and here.

But the applying and the stressing

and the planning and the prepping

are things that I’ll be just fine

taking a break from;

things I might not even miss.

But I do them now.

Amongst weekend visits with dears from long ago,

and teeny baby house guests

and events and fun,

beach times and lakeside runs.

And all the other things

that happen before

I put finger to key,

and begin to type these very words.

~Natalia

Day As Well

On the weeks that fly by,

and the evenings that arrive before I’m ready,

so that 6pm might as well be 11pm,

and then it’s nearly midnight and I’m not really sure what there’s time to do.

It’s on those nights that I sometimes decide not to write.

Not to write here.

But it’s 4pm and I’m sitting in Barnes and Noble,

watching cars drive too-fast through the intersection below,

and I’m writing, now.

It’s almost the end of 2014

(although I wrote 2015 just now, in that line above)

and it occurred to me on Sunday,

sitting under the pale white light of a church morning sky,

to wonder what it is that I’ll remember 2014 for.

Of course, my first thought was the my Little Book-

the increasingly battered miniature notebook

I’ve carted around in my bookbag, my purse, my suitcase,

these past nearly-12 months.

I could check there, of course.

To remind myself.

But there’s a part of my mind that knows, of course,

that I might just as well give a moment,

or maybe several moments,

to consider, to reflect upon,

what I made of this past year, and what it made of me,

and what I’d like to come of the next.

Maybe I’ll do that, here in the next days and weeks.

I realized today, suddenly and rather joltingly, that my student teaching

begins in one week from today.

January 5th.

Of course, I’ll not begin teaching for some days after that,

but a first is a first, and to just have a week feels rather abruptly short.

But really, a year is one week, just over and again,

and they all build on one another,

and I think that in this middle week-

these seven days that span the end of a year,

the beginning of another,

the end of Christmas break,

the beginning of student teaching,

the end, the end, the beginning, again a beginning,

I think I’ll make the same choices today- these days-

that I’d like to make all the other days, as well.

Because I’m not moving through these to get to the others;

each day and each week has 24 hours of value and depth,

decisions that will be made,

memories that will take shape.

And so, this Monday, December 29th,

while the grey clouds settle deeper over the shadowed buildings,

and the people move and stand

and read and shop

and lose and breathe,

I go and I live

and this day, this beginning day, this middle day, this ending day,

could also be a very good day, as well.

~Natalia

A Whole Lot of WordPress

I found myself this evening completely immersed in WordPress. Not only do I spend time perusing WordPress pages when I write for you here, but I also have been sporadically completing my required responses on my professor’s blog, where I give my word that all of my responses are thoughtful, intentional, and five days late. In addition to these two, I began a new blog just hours ago, which page was born to fulfill a homework requirement, but which I may choose to continue, should I see it is beneficial to my future career as a teacher.

But as I click through WordPress tabs and Google search my own posts to find just what I’m looking for, it occurred to me that there are many, many photos from the days I spent in Guatemala in July that have not appeared here. This is mostly because of the thousands of pictures that were taken, I took very few, and therefore have none of them on my computer. But, a couple moments navigating through Facebook resulted in a few wonderful shots of the our Guatemala days.

guate2

Visiting the first grade at Escuela El Esfuerzo

guate1

In Kindergarten at Escuela El Calvario. There were no teachers in this particular classroom throughout our three-hour visit, so we played and we read and we sang and we laughed, and I could have stayed in that miniature wooden chair for hours, reading whatever scrappy picture book those boys brought me.

gaute3

A large focus of the trip was constructing houses for two widows living in the town with their children. My role in the construction process consisted mainly of using a machete to peel the bark off of the wooden slats (seen above) that would become the walls of each home. The father participated at a slightly more intellectual level- measuring and cutting the slats to fit the exact space between wall pillars. However, when it came time to transport said slats between sites, everyone chipped in. 
guate5Our team, hailing from three different states, and most of whom met one another for the first time upon arriving in Guatemala. This early morning photo was taken along the trail that we walked every day from our house to the house of our host, which was also, conveniently, where we ate all our meals. There is a mountain hidden somewhere in the clouds behind us.

There are many more photos, of course, capturing scenes and memories from our week that even I have yet to revisit. But it’s past midnight, and I suppose I should be onto another WordPress post. But I’ll be back. Later, soon, eventually.

~Natalia

 

The Moments Before

It’s the moments before I write that I’m most introspective. Sitting on my bed at school, propped against one of the five pillows that line my bed; at home leaning sideways on the little couch, bare feet crossed, sticking slightly to the cool brown leather seat. The computer on my lap has long passed six years old- roughly 147 in laptop years- and its fan whirs, providing a long hum of background sound to the music I’m flipping through on Spotify.

Often, it’s Facebook, gmail, blog reading pages that occupy my mind before I begin to write. Eyes flicking across the white screen. Maybe I think about a lot during these internet perusing moments, as my mind mirrors my eyes, wandering across messages, pages, pictures, notifications, communication. Maybe I think, but I don’t pause, don’t consider, and often, it’s not until I open WordPress, watch the blinking line wait patiently, rhythmically, for me to type, that I truly begin to think.

I begin to wonder what I’ll write, then.

There are stories, of course. You’ve heard me say that before. On evenings when this space is quiet, and there are no new words, it’s hardly the result of lack of stories. Occasionally, I come to this WordPress square and watch the mouse blink across my screen, only to leave WordPress without having shared with you one word.

But on nights like tonight, in the quiet after email, I sit, rewind my mind to what has happened, what I’ve thought, what I am thinking now; what I’m doing and saying and choosing and anticipating. And the thoughts are so many and so varied, and the stories jumble upon one another, creating a cascade of memory, emotion, introspection and wonder, and I simply cannot choose what I will write.

Because there is Mar on the other end of a texting thread that stretches back now three years, a freshman friendship that bent and stretched, and came near breaking a time or two, but we’re nearly a month past her graduation, past hugs on the stone staircase of the Moody Church, and we swap words like treats, sneaking morsels of conversation between work, meals, bedtimes that misalign by almost three hours. And some nights, like Monday, we splurge on these emoji-peppered texts, and we text fast, lengthy, deep, and the conversation topics spin and fly, alternating and returning like some wired game of tennis with seven balls in place of one.

And there is work, standing pool-side with three others, gaggle of miniature athletes gazing up- and all too often around, past, above us- as we direct them. We mix instruction with input and a healthy dose of the personal relationships we’ve built this practice upon: jokes with little swimmers, high fives that send water droplets dancing, landing fat, cold, on my forehead, my neck, my eyelashes.

And there is memory, a multi-volume series of conversations, ideas, moments, that I’ve stored, willingly, or that have stored themselves as I look on, shrugging in veiled agreement as what I’ve seen, heard, said, considered, becomes that which I will never forget.

And so writing goes.

Sometimes there is much to say, yet little time.

Sometimes there is barely anything to say at all,

and I’m left thinking, wondering, wracking my memory for

what I’ll share next.

And some nights, like tonight, I’m a thousand places at once,

with the stories and the moments and the lessons

of the past weeks boiling, beginning to bubble inside my head, my heart,

and I just cannot decide what I’ll write about next.

~Natalia

Right Now I’m Tired

It’s Friday night,

and also Valentine’s Day,

and it was Day One, too, this morning, afternoon.

And Tuesday evening, Wednesday again, the clock ticks to midnight,

I sat in the upstairs window, outside the coffee shop,

and all those yellow chairs, the ones with no arm rests,

they filled and moved and emptied

with all the other people, doing homework, sharing stories,

living, loving, Moody life.

Midnight may not be so very late, but the hours are studying hours,

and last night, 10pm back to school after dinner at home,

sitting around the dining table over Pita Inn falafels,

I came back to school, pulled textbook off the shelf,

laid cold, tired, on blue flower bedspread,

found heavy eyes, even breathing, as I worked to read,

worked to stay awake.

I want to write; you know that, of course.

I want to write and share and tell and relate.

These days are so much more than the blur of class, friendship,

homework, that seems to define them.

I’m still thinking, still learning,

and most certainly still trusting God more and more with every

whisper of His will, every can’t-miss-it-this-is-the-plan-we-are-doing-this-now “happenstance” of life.

I’m still doing all those things.

And I want to tell you all about it.

And I will, I know. But maybe not all right now.

Because right now is dozing off at 11pm, laptop on crossed legs,

country music playing, unheeded, on Pandora, because it’s been awhile

since Brad Paisley and Lee Brice.

Right now is Valentine’s Dinner with Krista, The Neighbor;

7pm at a new place, standing in line, ordering salad, pasta,

twirling conversation like alfredo on forks.

Finishing with chocolate mousse, tiramisu with a side of friendship,

and we ride the bus back to school, winter wind chilling our legs,

ballet flats slipping just a little on the old, dark snow

that still litters the sidewalk.

Right now is so very much schoolwork, assignments, tasks to complete.

But March 7th is California spring break;

two weeks of second grade student teaching during the day,

grandparents, aunts, cousins in the evening, weekends.

And I’m falling asleep, eyes dry and heavy,

and Saturday is homework day; up early, working long,

but there’s fun and rest and conversation

and I’m so very blessed by all these friendships, each of these moments;

there’s not much to complain about

right now.

Except maybe, that I could write for you just a little more…
~Natalia

We Keep Living

Look back and you’ll notice it.

My posts, the pictures and words that I share with you, are less frequent now.

What was every day, maybe a skipped day once a week, is now every other day, maybe even longer.

I’m blogging less this year.

Part of this was intentional. January 1st, 2nd, I thought about choices and priorities and doing things and doing things well, and I decided to write for you less.

Less, but well.

This space has always been an outlet, an opportunity, for me to share what I’m thinking about, learning, living.

I’ve spent many, many late nights sitting on my bed, at my desk, on the flattened carpet in the hallway, writing.

I’ve told you about friends,

and about classes.

I’ve written about work,

and recounted story after story of my beloved family.

I’ve told you about fear and faithfulness and grace and my own inability, insufficiency.

That’s not going to change; I’m still experiencing and thinking and learning and writing, and you’ll still see that here, find me here.

But I’m also living.

I’m living the heaviest class load I’ve ever had, and the classes and the reading and the homework and the papers are written there, boxes on a full calendar, waiting for a check mark, waiting for completion.

But I’m also living friendships with hearts inside this school, and outside of it as well.

I’m living high school youth group time and relationships and Snapchats on Friday morning because they have a free period and I’m just reading.

I’m living family visits on the weekend, texting the Mother the days in between, little sister stories and inside jokes and the Father texting late when her phone’s left unattended.

I’m living work and little swimmer conversations and Jo-baby just turned 7, she wrapped her little arms around my waist last night, told me I was her favoritest coach.

And there’s a million other things I’m living; just like the life and the moving and the story that you’re living, that we’re all living.

And I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep telling, because I love this time and I love this space, and these lessons I want to remember and these moments I want to record.

But sometimes, the living will outweigh the writing and days will pass, and there will be no stories in that time, no new words on this space, then.

And when that happens, you and I, we’ll both keep moving and keep living, because there’s so many things to do, but there’s also a God who is so sovereign and who gives so much joy,

and for that, we just keep living.

~Natalia

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