Thursday, November 15, 2018

Anticipating the End

One week.  Seven days.  Twenty years.  It's really here, the day I've thought about for so long.  I've had barely a minute to think about it these past couple of weeks, but I know it's coming and though I am excited to get into a new place, I'm apprehensive of the sadness that's coming. 

That's a picture of my house when Joe and I first bought it.  I found this and a few others while I was packing yesterday and looking at them made me a little sentimental.  We bought the house together back in 1998 and I bought it out from him in 2008.  That's a lot of time spent inside these walls and it's going to be an adjustment to go live somewhere else. 

The house looks so different in this picture than it does today.  Both Joe and I together and then just myself put a lot of work into this place over the past twenty years and though it never quite got to perfection, I'm proud of what we...what I, did to the place..a new kitchen, a deck with a new sliding glass door where a window once existed, a new bathroom, and lots of other smaller things, too.

It's been a great couple of months for me since I decided to put the house on the market towards the end of the summer, and I'm trying to ride that wave for as long as I can.  The selling process went easier and faster than I thought it would, I ended up finding a great new place to inhabit, and to boot, I met someone pretty special, too!  He's the first meaningful person in my life in awhile now, and having him around, well, just makes me happy.

His and my lives have had some parallels to them in the two-plus months we've been dating, and that's one of the reasons I'm apprehensive of the end of my time here.  You see, just a couple of weeks ago, he moved out of his own place, the very first place that he had ever called his own, to go live with his best friend.  And just like me, he was lead to have to move earlier than he had planned, and as the days wore on towards his move, I watched and observed with a keen interest. 

The experience was tough for him as he quickly dismantled his home.  He texted me pictures of things he was packing, and the sentiments he was feeling were much the same as those I've been feeling as I go through my things now.  Memories.  Reminders of time spent in my home. 

When the day finally came for him to move, though I didn't see him, I could feel him.  My mind empathized as he spent the last night in his own place, feeling sentimental and sad, and then the displaced feelings he experienced when he first began to settle into his new digs.  Now as my time approaches, I feel that my own last moments here will be even more sentimental and sad.  I am not looking forward to that, but I know he'll be with me, be it in body or spirit, and that makes it all a little better. 

I may or may not reflect a little more in my remaining days here, that depends on the time I'll have.  We shall see.   In the meantime, my guy has settled into his new environment well, and luckily for me I've got a great place to take my mind off of the past and get excited about what's to come.  Stay tuned... 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Welcome to Switzerland: Hello Amy, Davide, and Lausanne

After my little three-day stint in Amsterdam, I was to spend the rest of my vacation with my friend Amy and her husband David, who live in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Our plan was to hang out in Lausanne for about six days and then head on to Paris for the end of my trip. In the end it was like two separate trips for me, the one alone in Amsterdam, and this one, and though both were wonderful in their own ways, the second part with Davide and Amy were extra special because of them.

Welcome to Switzerland!

After only an hour's flight from Amsterdam, I was in Geneva, Switzerland.  Davide and Amy live in Lausanne, about 45 minutes awayy by train, and so I hit the rails and in no time Amy and I were bear-hugging at the Lausanne train station.  After a quick stop at a local cafe (I needed it!), we went back up to their place where I finally, after almost ten years, met Davide.  All I can say at this point is that he was as warm and welcoming as Amy, and as the next week or so wore on, he and I became fast friends in our own right.

From the very start, Amy was like, whatever you want to do, let's do, but as she and I always do, and with Davide in the mix, we had wine and cheese and meats and talked through till the wee hours of the morning...a perfect relaxing start!


Now I'd been to Switzerland a couple of times before, but on both of those trips I was in Luzern and Zurich and both times it was in April.  Those two cities are in the German speaking part of the country, more to the east.  Amy and Davide live in Lausanne, which is in the French speaking region and more to the west.  The city is located on the shores of Lake Geneva (which they call lac Leman), across from Evian, France.  It is also home to the International Olympic Committee.  I'd never been to Lausanne before this trip, and so my first full day was spent checking it out...

Amy and Davide live in the vicinity of the lake, and the major portions of Lausanne are located up the hill from there, so bright and early Saturday morning, she and I headed to the city's one subway line to get to the city center.   Maybe because it was a Saturday and maybe it was because it was the height of summer vacation season, but the city reminded me a lot of the city of my father's birth, Trieste, Italy, with the appearance of a mid-sized city, but with few people.  We meandered through the quiet streets, checking out the sites as well as the produce offered up on Saturday farmer's market day.

And of course, there was shopping!  Amy brought me to this very cool, Century 21-like department store where she helped me do some damage, but I am gonna look oh so good this year, lol.

Let's Get French

All in all, the day was a fun one, and again, just spending time with my buddy was what made it so.  Later on in the evening, the three of us had been invited to the home of a gay couple (who's names escape me at the moment), one of whom was cousin to Amy's friend Sylvie.  Neither of them spoke English, and so most of the evening was spent with the four of them speaking French and David and Amy stopping every once in awhile to keep me abreast of the conversation.  It was really a lovely evening, with good food and wine, and pleasant company, though admittedly for the first time in my life I wished I'd known French.

I do speak Spanish fluently and a little bit of Italian, but I French always confused me.  The rules of pronunciation in Spanish and Italian are pretty steadfast, but French is a whole other story,  Luckily, Amy had learned the language quite well in her nine years in Switzerland, and that day she slowly began teaching me both how to say words and what they meant.  That night I was also introduced to a little bit of French Swiss culture, which turned out to be a funny little sidebar to the rest of the trip.

Before heading out to the dinner, both Amy and Davide showed me that when you first take a drink of your wine and do a sort of cheers, you have to look the other person in the eye and say the word "Sante," which I took as "shantay," a la Rupaul.  Well, that was something I couldn't seem to get quite right during the rest of the trip and made for some pretty funny moments.  

So that was my first full day in Lausanne, definitely one to remember and the rest of my time spent there was equally as delicious!  Stay tuned...

In the meantime, check out my other posts on Europe 2018 below:

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Staring at Another Blank Page, And it Looks Promising

Even though I've been back at work for two days already, it all really starts tomorrow.  That's when the kids come back to school, and now I'm finally getting excited.  I had the roughest end to a school year in my fifteen years of teaching back in June, and I left it behind thinking something would have to change.  I had a great summer, but when I got back yesterday, it felt like I was in the same bad place I'd left two short months ago. 

I came into a new classroom, the remnants of the tornado that was my last week still evident all over the place, and in between all of the beginning of year meetings, I've somehow managed to make it presentable for the students.  Coming back to school this year has not been what I envisioned it to be so far, and I'm hoping that once I'm with my kids, it will all come together, and this time it'll be better than ever!  Big change is happening in my life, good change, and I want to bring that feeling of optimism into my classroom, as well.  The blank page of this year is full of possibilities...

I usually post Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten on John's Music World for the beginning of the school year, and I still may.  It's one of my all-time favorite songs and to me it contains some pretty perfect words of wisdom for life:

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

I've spoken about these lyrics many times and this time I let them speak for themselves.  For me they take on a new meaning at the start of this particular new school year.  I am being cautiously optimistic, but I've been telling my friends lately that I feel I am at the beginning stages of a long-awaited Renaissance in my life.  Though plans I had been making had all fallen to the wayside over the summer, new doors are opening up for me.  My professional life is clicking on all cylinders, and even my love life is showing some signs of well, life, and I feel like everything is starting to fall into place.  

These sentiments are partially evident in my last two posts, It's Happening and You Get What You Give, and now that summertime is over and I'm back to the grind, it's time to carry these feelings into the new school year and beyond.  I want to make this the best year ever for both myself and my students, and to reach for and get what I've been looking for so long...a better place!  And it all begins tomorrow.

Good luck to all of you teachers out there in this new school year.  Here's hoping the blank pages of yours are filled with nothing but happiness and success.  You deserve it!  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

You Get What You Give: A Note of Thanks and Some Advice

I am one lucky person.  Well maybe not that lucky.  I am at a point in my life where a lot of things are starting to click.  Big changes are about to happen and for the first time in my life that I can remember, I feel really good about where life is headed.  If you read my last post, you'll know that after twenty years in my house, I have decided to sell.  It's one of the biggest decisions I've ever made and as the days have passed since that post, I'm actually starting to get excited...but that's not what I wanted to talk about...

When I posted It's Happening the other night, it was late.  I pretty much hit the 'publish' button and called it a night.  Well, I woke up the next morning to almost 500 page views, 80 likes and 50-plus comments on Facebook, as well as several texts and messages, all entirely supportive of my decision.  I was literally overwhelmed with emotion from it all.  I even heard from people I hardly connect with much anymore, and it just got me to thinking of how lucky, yet not so lucky I am.

I'm lucky because I have a support system of incredible people around me...friends, family, colleagues, and even simple acquaintances.  I don't always remember that until something like this comes along and boom, even the simplest of gestures gives me a feeling like no other.  I am humbled and feel very blessed. 

Once the house had been put up just yesterday and I posted the pictures my friend and realtor Ricardo had taken, the love and support flooded me all over again.  Lol, I don't know if it's the gay or the Italian in me, but I shed tears several times from all the compassion.  I just want to say here and now thank you to each and every person who reached out to me over the past several days.  Having every single one of you in my life is a blessing that I cherish!

That being said, I am a firm believer that this isn't all luck, and thus this teacher's advice to any of you reading.  You always get back what you give, and I like to think that the love and support that I give to anyone in my life is what I am feeling back right now.  I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I think I'm someone who's heart is always in the right place and, well I think I'm a fun person to be around, too, so...

So please take heed this little whatever you might call it.  If you're genuine and kind you're going to find that that it will come back to you tenfold.  I am proof of that.  If you don't behave this way, well, karma can be a bitch.  There's not nearly enough kindness in the world, so if you want to feel the love like I have these past few days, then you've got to give it!