Sunday 13 November 2022

Winter reflections

After a beautiful golden fall, winter came on us freezing and furious. People in the city have adjusted, somewhat grudgingly, and life goes on despite every sane animal instinct that says stay inside and hibernate. Illness is going around too, whether the now familiar plague of Covid variations or something else.

There is much to be grateful for but it hasn’t been an easy few months. My mom moved to supportive living last summer, and while it was absolutely the right decision and overall things are much better, there’s been some painful weeks where she was struggling to adjust. And there’s a lot for me and my brothers to keep learning and trying to cope with emotionally. We have each other anyway; I’m very grateful for siblings in this situation.

Work has been crazy. I was extremely lucky the past couple years to co-teach with an amazing woman who became a close friend. We weathered a lot of challenges together and innovated in ways that we probably wouldn’t have individually. But life is complicated and this past spring she decided she needed to leave special Ed. We are still friends and work in the same school and she continues to be a huge support.

Unfortunately, her position was filled by a person who is really not competent at all. This can regrettably happen with unionized jobs.  I’ve worked successfully with all sorts of personalities, and I was prepared to do so again. But it’s been seriously impossible, and I’ve gone from tight collaboration to asking for a “work divorce.” Mercifully, this has gone through in the past week. While the situation is not ideal at least there is more separation of responsibilities and therefore more accountability.

Halloween has come and gone, and a certain sweetie’s October birthday. As soon as November comes I find myself looking for the twinkling lights of Christmas in the long dark evenings. As of this weekend I’m all in, and currently under a blanket crocheting busily. I’m a rather shiftless crafter: sometimes I’m really into it and sometimes  months go by when I don’t touch yarn or fabric. But there is something about winter nights that tends to inspire. 

My project at the moment is to crochet twelve Christmas stockings.

One reason for this undertaking is we are flying to the USA for Christmas to visit my mother in law and my brother in law and his family. It will be our first trip there since 2018 and also our first time flying since then. Twelve family members total together, and one stocking each!

I’m maybe equal parts excited and anxious. A chance to travel is not something I’m prepared to turn down. My mother in law is a queen among hosts. And we have a new (ish) little nephew we’ve never met. But I’m more uneasy a traveller than I’ve previously been. I’ve heard a lot of travel horror stories. Intellectually I know things still go smoothly more often than not, but I just don’t take for granted anymore that complex systems usually work.

Even more intangibly, I’ve become comfortably, perhaps smugly parochial in the past 2 years. (Which feels much longer than 2 years, more like ten. Or at least 5.) On my own home turf, not a lot scares me. I look straight into the chaos and the abyss and I say: You will find me your equal and more. Or I run to my cozy home and hide, which is also good. Things might be crazy and tragic here, but it’s a familiar crazy tragedy. The notion of crossing several borders to a foreign land and encountering some alien form of craziness is a lot more terrifying. Yes, sorry Americans, you are foreigners to me now. But to put it in perspective, I could barely stand being in the downtown of my own city last year.

Perhaps this trip is exactly what I need to get some of my former openness back. It’s happening anyway, regardless of how many alarming scenarios run through my head. I’m coping by crocheting and preparing for the trip like we are leaving for the final frontier versus a (presumably) civilized country. We’ll be prepared for lost luggage, being stranded in airports, trapped in a cabin with contagious diseases, and whatever else I can think of. Hopefully not violence, but I am certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and traveling with a psychologist.

Back to my socks now, and hoping for a peaceful wind down of the year! May Light prevail over Darkness (and we know it will).