back to high school
I went back to my old high school today to visit my Spanish teacher (who I will henceforth refer to as Sra, short for Señora) during her planning period. There have been a lot of changes in the decade or so since I was her student, the most notable of which is that we can now chat completely in Spanish, but some things stay familiar. She looks the same as she used to, and I think I can still pass as a high schooler. Many of the students dwarf me, and other than my relaxed demeanor and conspicuous lack of backpack I don't know of any other ways to pick me out from a horde of high schoolers. When the ladies at the front office asked me if I knew where I was going, I laughed. I'm not that old yet! I can still find my the way to her classroom at the back of the foreign language hall with my eyes closed.
Sra is one of my favorite people on the planet. Hour for hour, I can't think of many ways I'd rather spend my time than catching up with her. It's always so fun to chismear (gossip) and tell her what her former students are up to. I helped her cut out laminated flashcards for an activity and filled her in on the fruitless job search as she asked me for parenting advice (unfortunately, I only know what not to do) and advice for her daughter. She suggested I apply to be a substitute teacher at school, which struck me as an idea so out there I could only laugh. Now that I'm home and looking over the application, it's certainly not as easy as she made it out to be, but $200 a day is nothing to scoff at, and I'd be able to work on whatever I wanted while subbing anyway. The only problem is that I'm not keen on the idea of marshalling a horde of teenagers, especially considering how I could pass as one of them.
I've enjoyed talking to people outside my usual age group ever since I was a kid playing bridge at the local bridge club with retirees. It's fascinating to hear what life is like in other bubbles. I couldn't believe Sra had never heard of ChatGPT before, and as I gave her a short demonstration she dubbed me la espía, or the spy. Talking to her always gives me a healthy perspective on my problems, in the same way I can only smile when watching high schoolers stress about homework. Life is long, and in the end there are precious few things that actually matter.
One of the things I have noticed changing every time I visit is the security at school. When I first started visiting many years ago, I could slip in from any door and roam as I pleased. Now Sra has to get a request approved days in advance, and when I arrive I have to register at the front desk with my driver's license for a name tag. I know they've made these changes in light of all the school shootings in this country, and I get depressed thinking about how much the schools have to adapt to the risk of shootings while gun control legislation remains largely unchanged.
The main reason I canceled my flights is because my parents wanted1 to go to Cancún in March and back to Asia in May, both of which overlapped with the flights I'd booked to Seattle & New York. Since I prefer walkable urban destinations over bourgeois touristy resorts, I'm not too keen on traveling to Cancún, but I have been waiting to go back to Asia for a long time. I originally planned to go on a big Asia trip after graduating as a last hurrah before joining the workforce, but after COVID-19 saw those plans go up in smoke my desire to return "home" has only grown.
It's been well over a decade since I last visited China. If this trip in May does end up happening, I figure it will be the last time I get to see my grandparents. My paternal grandmother already passed a few years back, and while I hardly know anyone in my extended family, it does feel like a shame if their last memory of me remains my awkward preteen self. Family aside, I'm also excited to see China again with new eyes. The last time I was there I didn't even have a phone to take photos with, and my memories of my parents' homes are mere whispers now. I want to document China maybe even more than I want to experience it — to write about it, to photograph it, to film it. To capture it in all its beauty and resplendence.
The flights to Cancún have been booked, but the plans for Asia trip have hit a snag (again). My brother, who is in his last semester of university, doesn't want to commit to anything until he gets an offer for a full-time job. I understand where he's coming from — after all, I was in almost the same position myself years ago — but I can't suppress my frustration deep inside. It's not like planning this trip would prevent him from continuing to apply, and besides, there are more important things in life than work!
When I had a job, my entire life revolved around it. I could only travel when my boss let me, and I never had enough time off to even think about a trip to Asia. Now that I'm out of work, you'd think I'd finally be free, but it seems like my life has only shifted to revolve around getting another job (or other people doing the same). Please make it make sense.
A very liberal use of the verb want. My parents don't enjoy traveling, and I think they do it more out of obligation than anything else.↩