So I've taught elementary school for over eleven years. I've been graduated from high school for seventeen years. It's been thirteen years since college and four years since graduate school.
I don't feel old, but I do feel settled.
It was ten years ago, after teaching on the small island of Matinicus, that I came to the River Valley. I didn't know anyone, just as I hadn't known anyone on Matinicus.
I'd drive around Rumford and not recognize the faces in cars or the walkers doing the mill loop. At night, I'd stare at the sulfuric steam that billowed into the air and wonder, what am I doing here?
Maybe it was the goal of paying off debt. Round-trip plane tickets were expensive at sixty dollars a pop, but a necessity for anyone living and teaching on a remote island.
Certainly, my kids resembled some of the kids I had on Matinicus, a working island, and not an artist's haven by any stretch of the imagination. But instead of every grade, I had twenty-three second graders and embraced my opportunity to connect with them.
Gradually my store of friends increased. I joined the community center and worked out to country music a couple times a week. Soon, I'd find myself at Hannaford for groceries and see two or three people I knew. My new friend Kelli, who taught down the hall from me, often walked the mill loop with me and we started payday dinners at Athena's twice a month. A midori sour usually followed at the Grainery or Dugout.
Then my coworker, Faye recommended a local hiking group that met every Wednesday. I decided to give it a shot. I got dressed in my polypro, put my hair in a ponytail and got to our meeting spot -The Information Booth- twenty minutes early. Slowly cars drove up and I made those awkward first-time introductions. These people weren't just the teachers I was accustomed to. They were doctors, business owners, insurance agents, mill workers and office managers. Quickly I had a bulging circle of new friends. By that summer, I was seeing many of these friends outside of hiking and we were going to music festivals and planning fun camping trips.
So yesterday, I was at home with my husband, when I got an email from my dad. The subject heading "The Game" said it all. Of course, I'd go because it turns out, my alma mater, the Morse High Shipbuilders are playing my home town Mountain Valley Falcons in the class B State football final next Saturday.
I couldn't be more happy or conflicted.
Dare I say, while, I still bleed blue, there's some silver in it too.