Making Out: Transitions

Making Out is a series centered on how Jess Burnquist, mother, writer, and teacher is "making out' as she processes adolescent issues amid the glare of parenthood and the shadows of nostalgia.

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The drive to work begins shortly after sunrise. Feeling as though I am in overdrive begins by the end of week one. Summer has ended and teaching replaces luxurious stretches of time rich with writing, impromptu conversations with my children having nothing to do with homework, movies, the couch.

I have never been on a cruise but I imagine that setting foot on land after being on the open seas feels like this.

Everything looks familiar, but it is dizzying.

One day last week, I arrived home and set my tote bag down near my writing desk. The bag was full of pre-assessments, summer projects and that day’s batch of AP Literature essays. I sunk into my chair and proceeded to stare out the window for over an hour. I took long breaths and acknowledged my exhaustion. A notebook that I set out to fill first in the month of June, then July sat on the edge of my desk with over 20 empty pages left. I threw it on the floor. I stared at my computer with loathing. I let the guilt seep its way in because that’s what I will feel for the next 10 months.

Guilt for not grading when I am writing. Guilt for not writing when I am grading. Guilt for not spending more quality time with my children, especially my son who will leave our house for college in less than a year.

During Monday’s staff in-service, we were asked to answer a series of questions as an icebreaker of sorts. I stumbled on the question, “How would you spend your ideal day?”

Then today happened.

My morning began with a string of messages from a former student moments after he arrived in New York City on his own to start college. We joked about his Uber driver, and I expressed how proud of him I am. Shortly afterward, I was presented with a great interview opportunity which I can develop into a larger theme/series for the magazine I help to edit.

During Creative Writing, students collaborated and established a plan for their spin on our online literary magazine. In this afternoon’s 10th grade class, students allowed themselves to laugh at the video I showed them--produced by teachers whom I wish to meet--who set The Battle of Hastings to "SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake.

After school, over 20 students came to my classroom for a club they started last year called Coyotes for Change. Together, they brainstormed phenomenally creative ways to set both local and global service projects in action. My daughter and I drove home in near silence, but she let

me rub her back at red lights. At home, my son came and sat down with me for a good while to fill me in on his day and to share his excitement over the realization that his classes won’t meet every single day in college. His eyes shone and I swear I saw him bounce with joy.

As I write this, my headphones are barely drowning out the sound of my husband’s laughter over something either Lilly or Andrew said to him. It is dusk--my red, translucent curtains are aglow and the room is practically blushing--as am I.

When will I learn not to panic at the beginning of an academic year?

When will I learn that I don’t have to do everything perfectly and all at once?

When will I learn that I live my ideal day one after another like words on a page.

About Jess