Loss or Longing . . .

Walking through one of the largest malls in the world, the glittering Christmas displays spark a sense of sorrow. Is it a feeling of loss for the Christmases surrounded by family? The predictability of Christmas morning: the scramble to the tree, butterscotch rolls, fresh coffee, the effort to delay the day as long as possible.

Or is it a longing? A longing to recreate? A longing to travel & explore? A longing to buy the beautiful displays?

As I pass by the shimmer & sheen, I find my true destination: Bath & Body Works. I’m on a mission to find a lotion to complement the fresh lime scented soap I already have. But instead I’m greeted with the unmistakable smell of Christmas 1997. Yes- THAT specific Christmas. That was the year that I spent 3 months working at the local Bath & Body Works. That holiday was fresh & exciting. Newly engaged to the man that would still be my husband 23 years later, I was ready for life!

The memory immediately made me laugh out loud! I smiled generously as I walked through the socially distanced, well masked store. It took just a moment- a split second- to cross thousands of miles, and several years, and end up in another world.

Obviously this year has been unlike any other. We accepted a job in Dubai with the insatiable dreams to travel Europe during Christmas. And with one word, those hopes were ended. COVID has taken much more from people than European vacations. I recognize the silliness of my loss. However, it has brought about so many other impacts that combined are starting to have long term effects.

As an extrovert, the fact that getting to know people is virtually impossible is hard. I am joining an amazing group of educators that have already established their pods- the people you’d invite to a 5 or less gathering.

I have been 14-day quarantined TWICE (I keep managing to be around people the day before they are positive).

But even more, my newest school placement called 5 days before our move to let us know that we’d have to resign contracts with a 15% deduction. We had no choice. We signed. And now, that deduction will apply to next year as well.

So what do I do? Jump ship, do the unthinkable by breaking contract? All with the hopes of landing somewhere more financially secure? Does that exist? Where in one month I could make back the loss of this move. That does exist. Do I pull Ryan from the school he has liked the best & is thriving? Do I need Shawn to pack up everything we literally unpacked a week ago?

Or do I stay? Do I go in debt for the next 2 years & hope that the 15% is reinstated? I can tell you, it was going to be tight BEFORE the 15%, so I don’t really see that as being much of a viable option. Plus, I appreciate how much the school is trying to operate pre-COVID as much as possible for kids & paying parents. However, it is more than double the work & time for teachers.

I work all the time. I’m still behind. My mind is a constant stream of should do, need to do, forgot to do, & want to do. All. The. Time. I wake up at 4:30 and try to decide if I should get up & work, or try to get one more hour of rest for my brain. Usually, it’s somewhere in the middle at neither. I can’t stop thinking, but I don’t get up.

With Christmas quickly approaching, I’m digging deep into my financially frugal days of 1997. I’m looking to find ways to make our tiny apartment in the Middle East feel like a cozy home celebrating family. Hoping that next year brings a rebirth from the ashes of 2020


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