Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Christmas with Vanessa and Carol

After class on Monday I fell out. witless, brain dead and lacking in energy I roamed around the house, finally putting myself to be at 8PM and sleeping the clock ‘round. Not only was I exhausted from all the celebration, I now nursed a pretty severe cold. Stuffy head, sore throat, achy muscles, clogged lungs and a nose that flowed like Niagara. I was still looking for a chance to take a shot of Nyquil and sleep till I could sleep no more. I was hoping Monday night would be that night but… no such chance.

On Tuesday I leapt out of bed again and headed to the internet café. The sleep I had gotten the night before did not do enough to renew my energy. I think I will need several days to recoup from this Holiday Extravaganza. But Gabriel is waiting and I have emails to respond to. Off I go.

While at the internet café Vanessa called me. She was at my house. I had forgotten that I told her yesterday we would meet. She had a gift to give me. There she was, waiting. As with Susan I had a hard time coming up with conversational gambits, even though I knew Vanessa better. If she noticed my deficit she did not comment on it. But she seemed to have things to say so she did not make any signs to leave. We ended up talking for three hours.

I’m glad we did. I got to know this precious child on a much deeper level than during the two semesters she sat in my class. She had professed her love for me unabashedly in the past, and did so again today. After hearing some of her life’s events – raised by grandparents after her mother moved to Shanghai for work, and her father leaving the family altogether. No connection to her estranged mother even though she loves her deeply made it easy for her to connect with me.

Such a precious child! I have always admired this rare and beautiful girl but had no idea what baggage she carried. She didn’t have the language skills to convey all that she was feeling: abandonment, disconnection, loneliness… all things that I understood as subtext to her actual words.

Vanessa is one reason why I am so glad to not only be a teacher but a mentor and mother figure to these kids.

Before we got into this soul baring, healing revelation session Vanessa helped me unwrap her gift to me: a framed butterfly. Her name meaning ‘butterfly’, she thought it would serve as a permanent reminder of her… as though I needed one! It now adorns the left side of my coffee table, balancing out the framed picture of my son on the right. I gave her one of my generic presents – a mug full of candy.

I’m really grateful for those generic gifts. They were originally intended for some of the teachers but they are working so much better in this capacity, don’t you think?

Just as I was getting ready to curl up with my book and wait for nightfall, there came Carol and Sophie. Carol had lent me an extension cord for the Christmas lights decorating my living room. She sent me a text message saying she needed it back. As I had it since the party on December 16th, her request was reasonable. I swallowed my fatigue once more and opened my door.

Carol, Sophie and I talked for two hours. About what I could not tell you. A lot of it had to do with Carol’s uncertainty of her future. Sophie joined in, confessing her shyness as a reason she does not feel confident about her future.

I hope these girls uncover their potential. They are both gifted intellects and Carol shows strong signs of leadership. I hope my little bits of encouragement give them both the incentive to carry on and search for their dreams.

The girls left just before 5PM. I’m not even hungry. I am sick. all I want to do is sleep and recover.

I force myself to eat something. I do not even remember what it is.

Another text message. Could Zhanny and Dash come over tomorrow?

No. I am declining all further invitations and taking myself off the grid. I simply have to rest.

I spent Wednesday in my jammies, doing nothing more strenuous than changing movies in the DVD player. I snacked rather than eating meals that would require preparation.

On Thursday I felt recovered, to an extent. I mustered the strength to do my dishes, finally washing the dirty plates leftover from Tony and Joanna’s visit last Friday night, along with the rest of my kitchenware I had used during those 6 days but had no time to clean.

On Friday busy-ness would start again. How nice it was to just relax for two days!

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