It is a *perfect* day here. After a stormy evening last night, the air is fresh, the grass is damp, and after the morning mist burned off, the sun is shining in a brilliant sky of blue overhead. I started my day with some affections with Ray, and after he took off for work, I set to prepping my bedroom for my mom’s visit. She’ll be taking my bed, and I’m going to set up shop in the basement guest room. After a bit of cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming, my room feels like a pristine respite from the world. I decided, while I started another load of laundry, to take myself out for a plate of eggs and bacon and fruit at the Country Cat Cafe, a local hot spot in my neighborhood.
As I was finishing my breakfast and sipping the remainder of my coffee, two women sat down at the bar with me. After a few pleasantries, we got into a discussion. One of the women is a social studies teacher for a local middle school. The conversation led into teaching and such, and I revealed to them that I had aspired to be a high school English teacher not too long ago. I still have all of the credentials, and could still step foot in a classroom today and teach a lesson. As we talked, though, it dawned on me, in a way, that perhaps I am happier doing the work I’m doing now than I would be in a classroom.
As a teacher, when I was in England, it was two years (my first two years of teaching) that was spent fully immersed in my job. I spent upwards of eighty hours a week in work mode. Grading, planning, prepping, parent meetings, IEPs, teacher workshops, student well-being – all of these things consumed my life. Then, it was a source of joy, for the most part, but I was young to the profession, and younger as a person. I was thrilled to have a career, even though I didn’t have much of a life.
Today, while I still am capable of teaching, I am not. I’m driving a bus for the local public transit company. I work around thirty hours a week, and after a few months of scrimping by, I’m now making enough money to support myself and my life. Because of the nature of my job, when I park that bus at the end of my day, I get to simply leave it all there and walk away. I don’t take any of it home. The most work I do outside of my actual job that still pertains to my job is make sure my schedule is posted on a shared calendar between Ray and I so that he and I can scheme and plan what we’re going to do outside of our work hours. In this job, I have a life. I have a balance in my life that I didn’t have in my early teaching years. Sure, if I’d stuck with it, not only would I be years into my career, but I’d also have the rhythms and patterns down. I’d have a reference library full of lesson plans and modifications to meet the needs of my students. I would have a stockpile of things to fall back on, and would probably, just at this point, start having a life outside of work.
It hit me, over eggs and bacon and fruit and coffee, that maybe I’m contented with what I do to sustain my life. Sure, it’s not glamorous, but it is a job. It pays enough to keep me happy (and my creditors happy). I don’t have the things that other near-forty-year-olds have (house, car, plenty saved for retirement), but I do have a smile on my face. I had no idea that I’d be driving a bus at this point in my life, but then I didn’t know that being contented might take the shape that it has in my life.