Four years of teaching.
I'd like to say it's gone by quickly, but that's kind of a lie.
Way back on my first day of uni we were asked to make a list of things we were sacrificing to complete the degree. I had a very long list. I thought that my list would no longer be a sacrifice when I had finished. I would be living where I wanted to, I'd have my family close by, I would have time to do things I love to do.
That's pretty much a lie too.
If anything, since I have been teaching I have sacrificed a lot more than at the start of my degree.
My family. My trips home. My reasonable locality to my brother, and doing stupid stuff like hunting down chocolate chip cake for his birthday because he really liked it when he was younger. Teaching means no student travel card, and that means most of the time it is just as easy to fly home. But then, I have to find places to leave my car and that's not always easy.
And my friends. All of them. I still have the same friends I did when I started my degree, give or take a few. I am so blessed beyond words that they have visited me almost anywhere I have gone. But I miss them. A lot. I've blogged about beach runs and coffee dates and pasta nights, but what I actually really miss is staying in and watching lame TV shows like Cheaters when we should have something better to do with our time.
Living in little towns mean that there's little choice for shopping. Life in Balaklava was ridiculously expensive, and here Woolies and Target are the only places we can really shop. One of my contracts sliced the classroom budget to $300 a year. Including photocopying. I spent a lot of money that year, most of the stuff had been totally trashed by the kids afterwards. My favourite parent complaint that year was that I didn't have good enough prizes in the prize box, and did I know I could buy a set of erasers from Target for two dollars?
And, most importantly, my health.
I have not been healthy since my first few weeks of teaching. I stopped gym, I started eating lunch orders, I couldn't drink water between 8am and 3pm. I stopped needing to walk anywhere.
Yeah. That''s been really fun.
There's a lot of little things too. I miss having some kind of choice over where I am. But I do. And I need to keep reminding myself of that fact.
What I've never really said before is this: midway through my first term of teaching I decided if I had to move to the country, I wanted to be living close to either Narelle or Stephen. So I applied to work in the Riverland near Narelle, and on the YP and Adelaide Plains near Stephen. Of course, I got the job in Balak, and Stephen and I started spending lots of time together, and now we're all married and stuff.
All of that was my choice. No one said I had to even leave Adelaide in the first place. When I left, a lot of change happened quickly. I left my jobs, I was broken up with (twice!), I had a farewell and comissioning service, we had Big Night Out to celebrate my two months away, I ate a lot of dinners and bought way too many CDs and DVDs. And all of this in the course of ten days. I honestly thought I would be back by December. And now, I'm sitting here on my couch in Kadina thinking about packing more boxes (will this ever end), four years later, going back to almost nothing, but a very loosely termed job offer and a place in the Fresh Meat Intake for MC Roller Girls.
I like teaching.
I like making kids laugh and teaching them something for the first time, and celebrating success and professional learning and school holidays.
I don't think I'll keep doing it forever. And I dodn't think this means I've wasted my degree, because every bump in the road and all those hours spent studying were some of the happiest in my life, and I don't want to take it back now, even if I could.
I know that I'm facing opposition from all sides. That's okay. I can live with that, because I'm tough and because I know that another four years in the country, or at least here, will do me in. This year has not been kind to me. One one hand I have travelled a lot, which was one of my resolutions. On the other hand I've been fired (but in their defense, they thought I was pregnant, the hell?!), my derby team has gone kaput, I haven't been able to get home very much even when I really wanted to. I've had no mad money, my gym is stupid and I stick out like a sore thumb.
This blog was supposed to be about four years of teaching, but now it should be plain to see that teaching, in it's current form, is embracing a lifestyle as well as a career. And it's not a lifestyle I have ever wanted or could live with for a long time, even though I have tried.
I would do it all again though.
And also, Guides, and travel, and seeing more of the state, and becoming a Birchy and country cooking.
Today, for these past four years, I am grateful.
But I'm taking back what I sacrificed four years ago, starting today, now that I've eaten a good breakfast and finished a Spin class.
No promises about my future, except that I think I'm making the right decision. To be indecisive and choosy all at the same time.