One of the things I found most difficult about being a teacher candidate was moving all the time.
Every three to five weeks over the course of teacher’s college, I was picking up and moving either from my crappy apartment in Kingston to my folks’ place in Ottawa or back to the aforementioned crappy apartment. It was nice to be back at home; I hadn’t lived with my parents in years, and I had hardly been home at all in the previous fourteen months due to a punishing work schedule and some post-breakup hermitage. But stepping back into my parents’ house was like going back in time and meeting myself at sixteen. More than that, my room, having been a guest room for years, had been entirely sanitized except for those touches of my sixteen-year-old-self.
And those touches screamed at me from all over my room.
It only got worse.
So I didn’t do a lot of work there. I couldn’t. My room in Kingston was too hot, and had chipped paint and crappy student furniture, but at least it was up to date. It reflected me, as I was at present, and I was comfortable there. The room didn’t remind me that I, at 16, like so many other 16-year-olds, was kind of super lame.
What I did was bail from my room and set up a pseudo-office in the basement. And the basement was, while a little more neutral, a little bit lonely, especially while marking and lesson-planning late at night.
Okay, it was really, really lonely.
So there, in my little pool of light in the cavernous expanse of the basement, I worked. I mapped out my lessons on my whiteboard. I was disproportionately excited about that whiteboard, too. I felt really legitimate, planning real lessons for real students on it. I even had different markers to colour-code it, and magnets to put up references and scratch notes, and little magnetized hook-shaped clip things to hold the markers right there on the board. I was on the cutting edge of whiteboard tech, and therefore, of lesson-planning itself.
After hours working on the whiteboard, complete with magnets and clips and notes and colour-coded markers, I refined and codified my plans on my computer. That was a harder process.
And, in response to the drudgery of working on the computer, I procrastinated to try and stave off loneliness-induced psychosis.
But finally tossing magnets at the lamp, as skill-testing and productive as it was, got a little old. Also, I only had the two of the conveniently flying-saucer shaped magnets. And I was, once again, feeling kind of lonely.
But then I looked back at the lamp, the entertainment value of which I thought I had thoroughly exhausted, and something occurred to me.
And so was born a little bit of friendliness in an otherwise cool and unfamiliar world. I had managed to bring a little bit of myself into a place I felt alienated from. I had My Robot Friend.
He still hangs out on my desk, keeping me company while I work, reminding me that even when things feel dark and alien and all I want to do is give up, I can still find a little bit of joy and whimsy and creativity to hold on to.