Yesterday, I dropped Cruz off at daycare to play with the friends he's been missing, and drove myself to the hair salon to get my locks manicured before my school year begins on Monday. It was a weird morning, the first day of public school for many of my teacher friends, as well as my former students at NU High, and I was feeling strange and sad at not being able to hug my students back from summer and welcome them to another year of talking, learning, and growing in Room 222. For the past five years, I've been conditioned to think like a teacher during the month of August - preparing my classroom, adding a few new books and lessons to my curriculum, and planning new ways to motivate, challenge, and engage the teenagers I had grown to love spending my days with. I think after the emotional roller coaster of our last school year together, we all needed a break so bad and just let the weight of the year fall with our backpacks as we left the school we had fought so hard to keep. I let it all go and turned my sights on summer and a stress-free season with Cruz.
I think that's why it hit me harder than I expected this week. We had such a wonderful summer, a summer of recovery, restoration, and relaxation, and I had almost forgotten the stress and uncertainty I had left behind. I hadn't really given myself time to think about how it would feel to not return to my office, my classroom, and my students. It was a feeling I wasn't prepared for, one that made me realize just how special and important that season of life was to me.
So just as I let the weight of the last school year fall from my shoulders before beginning my summer, I did what any girl does when she's sad, a little desperate, and in need of a pick-me-up - I said goodbye to my sun-bleached blond and went back to my roots. Yes, when all else fails and seems to be spinning wildly out of control, there's one thing I can always change - my hair color. We went with warm chocolate browns, a mix of 6 and 7, and it was just the change I needed to lift my spirits a bit and give me some confidence as I set my sights on Monday.
And while we colored, cut, washed, and styled, we talked a lot about seasons. How at the beginning of the summer, you can't wait to pack your sweaters away and kick on a pair of flip flops, throw some meat on the grill, and add some sun-kissed highlights to your hair. You've made it through another winter, and you silently wish that summer would last forever...until mid-August, that is.
Then, you suddenly ache for comfort food - a pot of chili simmering on the stove-top while a football game roars from the living room. You want hooded sweatshirts and brown leather boots, falling leaves and pumpkins, and soon - Christmas music.
We laughed at how short our attention spans are, and blamed it on living in Iowa, the heart of the Midwest, where seasons change about as frequently as, well, my hair color. And while there are times (like in February) when I think I could move South to year-round warmth and green grass, I wonder if I'd take it for granted after awhile. I wonder if I'd be so hopelessly in love with the colors of fall, or the smell of fresh cut grass, or the sticky warmth of a hot July night, if they'd be part of my world for 365 days a year?
Seasons change, and we are programmed to adapt. Adapt with the clothes we wear, the food we cook, the hair color we choose, and the attitude we control. Because although we don't have much power over the seasons, we do have power in how we respond to them. There's good to be found in all of it, even in the dead of winter when the nights are long and the storms can keep you down for days. You light a fire, grab your favorite quilt, and make the most of it.
I can feel the seasons changing lately. The sun sets a little earlier, and socks and sweats are a welcomed comfort as we settle in each night. Soon, this magical summer of being home with Cruz will turn to early mornings, schedules and routines, and new demands as I begin a new position at the university. I'm sad to leave this little bubble we've created this summer, knowing things are likely to change, but trusting that change is necessary, important, and oftentimes, beautiful. I'm looking forward to this new adventure of mine, for new relationships and challenges, and new opportunities to adapt to a new season of growth.
"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."