“Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.” ~Khalil Gibran
It’s a few and far between occasion when an email stops me in my tracks and really makes me think. Days before Thanksgiving I received an email from a certain Chris Geraghty. Chris and I met just over three years ago as we both found ourselves teaching for the very first time as first year teachers; and swimming in the deep end of West Philadelphia. Both teaching middle school minds (and all the liveliness and opinionated minds that came with the territory) and coaching the track team on the side, Chris and I forged a friendship that has sustained itself to this day. During my two years in Philadelphia, we grew close, and he became a friend I could connect on many a levels. We were there for each other in the exhaustion of teaching in an intercity school as first year teachers; we were there to share funny stories and hear each other’s rants on other days. The fateful and stormy night in July on 2012 when I got the prognosis of my dad – Chris was there with ice cream in hand – as he, Colleen and I talked, cried, sat in silence, and took ice cream as a remedy.
|Chris; or otherwise known as Mr. Geraghty
|My 8th grade class 2010-2011
But I digress; his email was short and sweet – as it normally is – but it spoke volumes to me as I was approaching the Thanksgiving weekend. There were happy Thanksgiving wishes, but the line stopped me and made me recollect was this: “It was three full years ago that we were gifted this long weekend as a much needed respite from the energetic children of Girard and Lancaster!”
|My 6th grade class 2010 - 2011
Three…full…years ago… Had it really been three years ago since my first long break as a first year teacher? Has it really been three years ago that I was still getting acquainted with Colleen and Gabi in the SSJ Mission Corps? Had it really been three years ago that I had recently left the hilly streets of San Francisco to bear the four brutal seasons of the east coast and found myself teaching alongside many other first year teachers in the notorious neighborhood of west Philly? Huh…three years ago?
|SSJ Mission Corps 2010-2011
When I stop and really think about all that’s happened in three years’ time, I can’t help but feel a sense of fullness; fullness of life that is. In three years’ time I’ve taught as a full time teacher (now at two different schools, on two different ends of our coasts). And in those first two years in the trenches of West Philly, those boisterous preadolescent teens taught me more than they will ever know; they forced me to grow and assert myself more than they will know; and they gave me the gift of them – every single day. In three years’ time I’ve made some of the dearest friends out in the city of Brotherly love (Colleen, Chris, Seth, Peg, Nancy, and Rosanne just to name a few); while maintaining some other dear friendships in California (even with the three hour time difference). In three years’ time I’ve reconnected with childhood friends and even a childhood teacher who I can now confidently call a friend and mentor. In three years’ time I’ve traveled to all the iconic east coast cities such as: Boston, D.C., New York, and Baltimore; and never took it for granted. In three years’ time I’ve run two full marathons and helped coach numerous other youth in the multitude of benefits that comes from running. In three years’ time I’ve effed up a time or two; picked myself up and kept going. In three years’ time I’ve grown into my own – even more so than before – and felt more comfortable and confidant in my own skin. In three years’ time I’ve put myself out there; danced, dated and flirted with a number of undisclosed men – cause Lord knows my hips don’t lie! In three years’ time I’ve asked for forgiveness, and in other circumstances gave it. In three years’ time I’ve had a couple of fall outs with people I never thought I would, and despite the hurt that comes from a fall out, learned to let it go; learned to forgive ‘em and learned to move on. In three years’ time I’ve faced demons of my past, and in time and with help learned to address them in a healthy and mature way. In three years’ time I’ve been thrown under the bus and learned to hold my own - and in turn learned a hell of a lot about myself in the process.
|SSJ Mission Corps in Boston Spring 2011
|Kelly Drive - my running route while residing in Philly
|NYC Statue of Liberty 2010
|Coll and I in NYC fall 2010
|Baltimore for my 25th B-day - 2011
|Philadelphia's annual flower show - 2011
|Philadelphia Marathon fall of 2011; with a student of a running buddy!
|Philly marathon - 2011
|Philadelphia city hall
|Seth and I - karaoke!
|Independence hall with Nick - a SFSU college friend!
|A Winter scene in Philly.
|Bryson and I at the top of the Rocky steps in Philly - 2012
|A SFSU Newman reunion via hike!
|A long standing friend's birthday via wake boarding!
|Color Run - San Diego 2011 with Justin!
|With the girls at an Angels game!
Yes, it HAS been three, very full years!
Gah, three years - where did it go; how did it go?! And that the thing - so often we (myself included) become numb or even apathetic to that time and that value of time spent. The Monday drain; the deadlines; the drama; the "to do lists;" the "I don't have time for..." And while all this is real and everyday living - I know I feel like a cheesy mush when I have moments where something so simple causes me to recollect in gratitude; and even motivating me forward.
And so, as it has been said that the first holiday season without a recently deceased is emotionally rough, I can say that was indeed the case for me this past Thanksgiving weekend as thoughts of my dad came to the surface. Despite that fact, the other truth is I am truly grateful for my life and the fullness that it has and continues to be for me. And while the past year and a half (of that three year stretch of time)has been the roughest year and a half– second to none – with my dad’s diagnosis of cancer, treatment of cancer and death, I can’t help but look at that fullness and not focus too terribly on the trenches of now. In simpler words: reflecting on my past, gives me hope for what’s to come.
“You may delay, but time will not.” ~Benjamin Franklin