The Equation of Happiness

It’s no secret that my life is BIG. Not ‘just got back from Paris’ big, but ‘I fill every cranny of my life with amazing things that I could not stand to NOT be a part of but the sum of which utterly DOES ME IN’ big.

During the summer this is fine. I’m a teacher, and while I do spend an incredible amount of time planning and taking classes and reading during the summer, the most important thing that happens is that I have time to think and process. This cannot happen during the school year for reasons that parents and teachers can understand, so it happens during the summer. When there is time and space and five QUIET minutes. I drive, wearing running shorts and dirty t-shirts, to and from Colby’s various events, and think. I visit my friends, watch hockey games, read a bajillion books, swim every possible afternoon, play in the garden, and it all seems to work.

I can manage during the summer. Wearing Old yoga pants! Running shorts! Anything with an elastic waistband! We eat dinner at 10 p.m. and often that dinner consists of any variation of toast and whatever came in from the garden. Can you sense what’s coming here?

We’re going back to school.

Freshmen orientation is tomorrow and my very own special-flower-man-child-superstar-genius is In. My. Class.

Send prayers and wine.

Some people transition. They plan and pack bento box lunches and iron their work clothes. They have checklists and a plan. I, as you know, do not.

I have been grocery shopping in the garden for WEEKS.

My work clothes will never be pressed.

All of my child’s school supplies are in a warped cardboard box on the porch.

Yet, we ARE ready.

I mean, I just put lasagna in the oven and it is sure to boil over and ruin the oven any minute, but shit, I put LASAGNA in the OVEN. Let’s focus on accomplishments, people.

My syllabi are done, orientations completed, and posters hung. I have shiny classroom floors, an activity for tomorrow, and a really good feeling about where this year will take us. These kids are my PEOPLE. They love the same books and shows as I do and they are interested in EVERYTHING. We never lack a topic for conversation. At the end of every August I leave my own world, but in a way, I am going HOME.

I’ve also picked a fight with my husband about tomatoes and utterly neglected a towering stack of laundry that is now living in my green chair. It is judging me and I am maybe a little vindictive and refuse to cave into its snarky demands. Sheets. If you want to get in the closet than maybe you should slink your cotton ass up the stairs and put yourself away.

I’m busy.

Like the rest of you, I am still that carnival act spinning a million plates. Off my feet, head, hands, that pouch of baby weight that I meant to lose fourteen years ago . . . We’re spinning meals and spouses and soccer practice and new books – pets and car repairs and laundry – meetings and community and the best friends in the world. And while everyone around us says: “I don’t know how you do it!” we KNOW that we could not have it any other way. Each plate balances the other, and the loss of one would throw us irrevocably off kilter.

I explain this to my husband, friend, colleagues, etc. by telling them that all of these areas of my life contribute to my happiness. I like a lot of people and a lot of activities and a whole lotta Netflix; my dogs, good books, and music; taking classes and teaching classes and playing in the garden and reading about livestock.

After 34 years, I think this is just the way it is going to be. Not ‘crazy busy’, but dear God, so lucky.

How blessed we are.

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