For international teachers (well, probably for ALL teachers), summer is a time to relax and recharge, catch up with friends and family, travel and/or find a little stillness. During the school year, we often daydream of lazy days by our lake, biking on the trails, kayaking, finding our zen at yoga classes, playing with the nephews, maybe roadtripping around the region, drinking quality but affordable wine, grilling and chilling, and so on.
By that definition, this summer has been the anti-summer. Sure, we did those things, but not nearly as much as we wanted to, and not nearly with the usual laid-back seasonal spirit.
Every single member of my immediate family is experiencing a major life event this summer: Meg has a 10-month-old baby and is preparing to join her husband in Korea in a couple weeks; Mike retired from the Air Force and just moved with his wife Summer to England; Kate and John have a new baby AND decided to buy my parents house and let them live in the basement apartment; and my parents are moving into the basement AND buying a winter home in Florida. Although Mike isn’t here in Michigan to share his stress in person, the rest of the gang more than made up for it. For now, Megan and her baby, Kate and her whole family, and my parents are all living in the same house. And the stress they’re feeling? I feel it, too. Sigh…
As for Tony and me, we launched a massive renovation of our lake house, which meant we were tethered to it for most of the summer. We couldn’t wander off much because the workers seemed to have hourly questions, to which our answers were usually uninformed and arbitrary but caused us to second-guess ourselves for the rest of the day. (Did we want the bedroom door to open in or out? Did we want an extra light in the hallway to avoid a dark spot? Did we want clear or frosted glass in the bathroom window?) Although we still tried to enjoy our morning coffee on the porch, the construction noise and heavy metal music blaring from the contractors’ radio drowned out the birds. (This morning’s most notable tune was “The Bitch Came Back.”) A makeshift wall separated our living space from the construction zone, but it was far from soundproof. Sometimes we had to stop ourselves mid-sentence (or mid-fight) when we realized the men on the other side of that flimsy plastic sheet could hear everything we said. Perhaps the most stress-inducing part was the mental image of winged money escaping out of our bank account and flitting away into the distance.
We know the remodeled area of our home will be wonderful when it’s finished. Going for long walks around our island in a futile attempt to relax, we have met many neighbors and made some new friends, giving us a sense of optimism about future summers here. We also know the family issues will resolve soon after everyone unpacks and life gets back to normal. Still, we can’t help having a little pity party about our lost summer, compounding our stress with the knowledge that we’re heading back to India and our jobs in just a few days.
That said, the summer wasn’t a total bust here at the lake. Looking back at my photos, I realized we had a few good times.
This annual event includes a big party at our neighbor’s house, followed by everyone lining their lakefront property with road flares and lighting them at 10 p.m. We shook things up a bit by adding glowsticks to the mix.
Lake Orion put on a smashing show this year! During the day, we were happy to have our usual cookout and lake time with the usual guests (geez, I didn’t take any photos of the Grays) and special visitor, Cami.
As always, I was super excited to spend time with my family, especially the growing gaggle of nephews.
There is ONE big drawback to having little boys at your house all the time.
As the Summer of Stress draws to an end and as I read back over this post (and realize how whiny I sound), I must admit I feel pretty lucky. I have two days left in the States. My goal is to breathe in this fresh air, kiss and cuddle all the little people in my life, and feel grateful for summers off, no matter how chaotic they may be.