My Name was Supposed to be Elizabeth Ann

— Stories from the Roads (Not) Taken

…And my feet are killing me.

First thing I did when I got home was kick them off. Second thing, exchange my big girl clothes for sweatpants, a fat, fluffy sweatshirt and socks. Fuzzy socks.

See, I’ve been teaching remotely since before Thanksgiving, meaning at home in my family room, thirteen steps and two hallways from my bedroom, and equidistant from my kitchen and bathroom. Which any teacher will tell you is an  ideal working condition. 

Easy access to the bathroom, I mean. None of the rest of this has been ideal. At all.

Other than the occasional foray for groceries or to the CVS, I haven’t had to wear shoes since mid-November. Somedays, I didn’t even wear socks with my slippers because yup, that’s how I roll.

Anyway, today I had to return to my building because today we returned to hybrid instruction. Today, I had to not only defrost my frost-covered car, I had to decide what I wanted for lunch and pack it before I’d even considered what’s for breakfast and what on earth am I going to wear. And by the way, where are my pants? My work pants, I mean. Have you seen them?

Thank goodness for coffee. Thank goodness for travel mugs. Thank goodness I screwed that lid on tight because everything else was a hot Monday.

I couldn’t find anything. My remote. My pens. My routines.

But then the bell rang and the kids arrived. Not all of them, of course, just the Monday cohort minus the ones who forgot or who were too tired or worried or confused to know where they were supposed to be and when because the remote schedule is not the same as the hybrid schedule, nor the revised hybrid schedule, which is the one we’re following now. 

I think.

But it was good to see them. Even with the masks. Even with the blue Xs on their desks and the green bottle of spritz I have to spritz on the desks and the door after they leave and before second period arrives. 

I’ve got this, I thought. 

Shoulda knocked on wood.

The alarms went off mid-second, a mechanical feminine voice that’s supposed to be calming but isn’t, not when she’s announcing a lockdown. Not when we just started back and our capitol was just attacked by wacko-crackos who, Internet rumors have it, are planning a sequel. Or fifty. So I flipped off my lights and shoved desks away from my safe corner while my seniors, four boys, shoved the table and crouched where I pointed, six-foot bubbles be damned. We’ve been trained, you see. Teachers. Students. About how to hide. How to run.  How to barricade our doors and arm ourselves with anything that could be a weapon. Books. Chairs. Staplers. Canned goods long past their expiration. 

In case… you know. 

In case.

I wasn’t the only one frightened, my colleagues shared later. All of us believed it a real lockdown, but it wasn’t. Thank goodness. It was neither an emergency nor a drill. It was an accident. A malfunction in the system that was quickly fixed, quickly forgotten. Thank goodness. The rest of my day went well, and now I’m home wondering what to make for dinner.

My point?

I was–am–a bit unsettled.

And I’m glad to be home.

Thanks for listening.

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