Last Tuesday morning, I took a deep breath before walking through the main door of the school. I was there to say goodbye to the kids I had taught Spanish to, albeit a bit prematurely.
See, I had just been fired from the Spanish Specialist position the week prior. Which was totally fine because deep down inside, I really didn’t want to be doing this any longer. Being let go was the best thing that could have happened. I literally feel 20lbs lighter. But still, I wanted to say goodbye to the kids. Get some closure.
I began working there last September. I am not a school teacher by trade, but I felt equipped: I’d worked with kids in so many different capacities over the years, and during college, I taught English to elementary school kids while living in Paris. Plus, there’s all that time I spent in the Education Department of a handful of museums in NYC. And, hello! Spanish is my native tongue, how hard could it be?
Well, at least I can say I tried.
In retrospect, I can see now that I inherited a broken Spanish program. There were two other Specialists like me: a music teacher and an art teacher. Both had been there for at least a decade, and had classrooms with all the materials they’ve collected over the years.
I was given an empty room, which i did my best to work with.
I rolled up my sleeves and created a curriculum.
Problem was… most of my time went to classroom management. A new teacher, in a nearly empty room, with no other teachers there for support, became a recipe for disaster. I spent nearly all my time just managing kids who would run around, hit each other, yell, interrupt… you name it.
So a couple of months ago, when I was given word by my boss that some parents were not happy with me, mainly because the kids are not hitting some kind of expected benchmarks, the news took the wind out of my sails. But it was not worth fighting for because deep down I knew this is not what I was supposed to be doing.
When I walked into the classroom to say goodbye, they were waiting for me in a semi circle. There was a chair set up in front of them. I sat down. I told them that I had enjoyed getting to know them. I told them that although I am a teacher, teaching Spanish in a school is not where my heart work lies. Years ago, I chose to teach hot yoga, and that is what I am now choosing to fully pursue. I also shared with them my hope for the Spanish program: may the right person come along whose heart work is to make it into something wonderful.
I shared with them some other stories, too. When one of them asked me if I had been scared when I first moved to the States at the age of 8, I told them how as a little kid, my mom would put me on flights by myself to go visit family in other parts of Ecuador, our native country. She worked at the airport and had her flight attendant friends care for me during the flights. I even remember flying in the cockpit once. So when I was put on an airplane to New York by myself, I was not scared. I was more like, “Ok, lets go.”
Every question led to a story. They seemed fascinated that I’d traveled so much and knew other languages. And the stories reminded me of how I’ve never really been afraid of stepping into something new. Never hesitated longer than I needed to when letting go. Not afraid of going into the unknown. Which is really good to remember now, during what I would call the beginning of an epic, epic adventure.
Two weeks ago, I closed the sale on a parcel of land in Turners Falls. I’ve heard people describe TF as a min-Brooklyn, and I couldn’t agree more. There are lots of artists and musicians. There’s a good diversity of people. It’s got that brownstone-y city feel, there are several boutique shops ran by people with awesome taste and style, really good restaurants, several music venues, and THE doppest playground I’ve ever seen in my life: it has the Connecticut river as its view.
When I first landed here a year ago, I was overcome by a need to create a healing space, a safe space, and find other safe spaces in the area. In my mind’s eye, I saw my home and other safe places like it as pillars. It was an overwhelming feeling, which only now I’m putting into words, but it made sense to me when a few weeks later, I came to learn that Turners Falls was named after the man who in 1676 had led the massacre of roughly 200 multi-tribal Native children, women, and elders gathered on this land. Which in its heyday was a total hub.
The land needs healing.
And as fate would have it, I now own a little parcel of it.
It is raw land. I spend all my spare time weeding it out and cleaning it up. Getting to know it. It sounds wild, but I feel like it is asking of me to help in its healing process. I feel as though I am clearly being guided by Spirit to heal this land through the creation of a healing space.
When I told a friend the news on the day that I closed, she exclaimed, “congratulations!”
I could understand her joy for me, but in that moment, I realized it’s not as though I feel like I’m now the “owner” of the land. More like a steward.
My dream is to build my own hot yoga studio on the main floor, and a loft apartment for me and Luca above it.
I have NO idea how any of this is going to happen. Any of it.
How it all comes about and where I will be a year from now will be a story for another time.
-Pic above is of my feet, my gloves, my rake, on the land <3-