So, the school year has come to a close, and with it, so has my time at the YMCA school. My students threw me a beautiful “surprise” party last Monday, complete with all kinds of marvellous homemade food, artistry on my chalkboard, and even an unnecessary but great gift. I handed out report cards and had individual meetings with students on Tuesday; Wednesday was our year-end picnic (more delicious potluck goodies), and the final student goodbye; Thursday was a PD day, and my last day with the teachers. I had quite a bit of work to do to wrap up my job, so pretty much everyone left well before I did. Karen was the last to go, and I was pretty much a sobbing mess by that point, having just begun reading the goodbye card from the Immigrant Services staff. All that was left was to put away the resources I’d been using all year, and clear out my desk into a big box to carry to my car.
Painful as it was, the whole thing wouldn’t have been nearly as pathetic if I didn’t feel like a big fraud for talking about going to Brazil for so long. It totally doesn’t even feel like I’m going – more like I just left a secure job that I loved for absolutely no reason. On the way home I stopped at Shopper’s Drug Mart to pick up the prescription for anti-malaria pills that I probably won’t need, and treated myself to a new shade of nail polish (you know, to help fill the void with pointless consumerism and shallow vanity).
The next day was Canada Day, and I was determined to give myself at least some pretenses of relaxation and holiday enjoyment, so I spent the night at my friend Jamie’s house, and we headed off to the local Canada Day festivities in the park. Despite having slept on her couch the night before, I felt pretty good. Maybe it was getting 8 solid hours of sleep; maybe it was not having the morning sun wake me at 6 am; but maybe it was just having nothing in particular to do for once. I had the car, my bathing suit, and many unscheduled and sun-filled hours ahead of me.
We really did have a great day. Jamie is part of the county’s concert band, which was playing just after the parade finished and before the opening ceremonies began, so we got to watch the parade from the finish line in the gracious shade of the park. Her band – which opened with Coldplay, followed by Lady Gaga, some sleepy neoclassical piece, and then Smoke on the Water, finished patriotically with O Canada. A giant 8’x4′ cake was served directly after, decorated with whipped cream and hundreds of halved strawberries in the shape of the Canadian flag. Epic as it was, it managed to keep up with the long and eager line-up of patriots that formed at its arrival. There was more than enough to go around, so I’m not sure what possessed one oversized woman to share one of her two pieces with her dog – bite by bite.
After the band was done, Jamie and I bummed some money off her parents (we had come unprepared, for shame!) and readied ourselves for the international smorgasbord of vendors before us. First up was the Chinese Association’s booth, and in our quest for a spring roll (we had to buy a whole combo just to get one) I noticed several of my (ex-)students working there. They were happy to see me, and for the third time that week I was treated to a giant plate of home-cooked ethnic food for free! Jamie and I had a hard time eating everything, so we scouted out the parents of our missing third musketeer, Breanna, and donated the proceeds therein.
Jamie and I managed to stuff down a chocolate and peanut-coated ice cream cone before we left the park in favour of a beach near her house. (We would have just used her pool, but it was full of loud, drunken teenagers courtesy of her brother.) We sunned ourselves for the appropriate amount of time, then returned to her (now empty) house to eat a delicious surf-and-turf dinner with her foodie parents (I stuck to the “turf”). There was just enough time to shower and head out to pick up our friend Joe, visiting from out of town, and to drive down to the waterfront to finish the day with some fireworks. My hometown may not be very big, but it puts on an excellent display every year – they really are my favourite fireworks ever.
On Saturday, I actually slept in. That hasn’t happened in a while, as I’ve been too busy even on weekends to sleep later than 9 or so, and besides, the June morning sun just refuses to allow that to happen. I spent the day hiding from the heat and humidity in my basement room, and sorted through all my teaching materials into some semblance of order for whenever I will use them again (I’m not dragging everything to Brazil with me, and besides, it’s all Canada-specific). On Sunday, I went to the beach for a few hours, then headed to Toronto by train…
Continued in next post