Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Expiration Dates and Extended Mixed Metaphors

I drink a lot of milk. This may come as a surprise to people who knew me as the I'm-allergic-to-soy-so-I-drink-rice-milk girl. But the story behind how I became an omnomnivore is for another time. I have learned that in the Czech Republic, expiration dates are pretty accurate. These are not the whimpy American "sell-by" or, worse yet, "enjoy-by" dates. They are expiration dates. They are, "Don't even bother opening the cap!" dates. When I get milk, I always drink a lot of it the first two days and then realize that I am running out and I don't want to go buy more, so I drink it sparingly, then all of a sudden the expiration date is looming and I know that at midnight my milk will turn into a pumpkin.

Last week, nothing seemed to go right. It was probably some time around 00:01 on 1 November that things started to go south, so I was resigned to considering November a bust. But this morning, I woke up and decided, "Dnes je nový týden. Bude to dobré." Today is a new week. It will be good. And it's all about attitude. I went to school, determined to have a good day, and I did! My boss casually brought up what a good job I am doing, which was good because it had been a nagging anxiety in the back of my mind for a week or two now--since I realized that I am here on a three-month trial period and I didn't actually know if my boss even liked me. But now I know that she thinks I am doing a great job and that the kids really love me. She told me that last week when I wasn't around, Ema was shouting from the bottom of the stairs, "Colleen! Colleen!" and would not accept her as a substitute. I had another parent-child class today and though they make me anxious, this one went really well.

As I was walking home, I was thinking about how this is the first time in my life that what I am doing doesn't have an expiration date. I do not have a planned end to living in the Czech Republic or working at my school. I love them both so much that I am content to think of it as an indefinite situation. But it's the first time when indefinite feels... good. I feel settled. I feel like if this were to be the job I take for the rest of my life, I would be happy. I would probably move to Prague and commute out to Kolín for school, but other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. My life has always gone from one definite ending date to another: elementary school, junior high, high school, college, NYSP, Korea, (okay there was that period of unemployment that seemed interminable but that's another story), camp... all of these things, I knew, would end in the near future. It's nice to not be searching for jobs while working one.

But while I bounced along the path home, on autopilot with dance music playing in my ears, I tried to silence the little voice in my back of my mind that keeps saying, "Visa visa visa!" When I got home, though, I had a message from a Czech friend saying that she spoke to a lawyer for me and they will help me. Everything will be okay! How could I ever leave a country where I've met such amazing people? All of the friends I've made, all of the people I work with, everyone tries so hard to make me feel welcome and happy in this country. And boy howdy do I ever!

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