My supposed-to-be-soothing-and-melodic alarm sounds off at 6 am, but what I hear is pounding cacophony. Although I know many of my colleagues have already been to the gym, packed lunches, and saved the world, I roll over and press snooze for “the final time.”
The news groans on as the background noise to my morning. I paint my face confident. Caffeine enters my bloodstream, and my eyes widen just enough to finish my mascara. I slip into the shoes I bought in the junior section of Kohls and shrug into my worn sweater.
As 7 am rolls around, I load into my car with my oversized bag, coffee, and lunch tote and turn on the radio. My morning commute commences.
Instead of highways, I wind along backroads and take in my scene. The lofty white church sits quietly in the early weekday morning. The sight evokes memories that slip into my cracked window. I can feel my back pressed against the pew, taking in the priest's homily and, more importantly at the time, my picture book as my mom sits by my side. We sit together in the children’s room and my religious roots grow from my kneeling legs through my heart. The church blurs in the foreground and my scene shifts.
I pause briefly at a stop sign where horses graze beyond the weathered fence, unconcerned with the fitful traffic. I smile, feeling the hay crackling in my small fists as I feed the rabbits in my backyard. My dad by my side, putting in the final nail in his homemade hutch. One, two, three second stop at the memory bank and I ease back on the pedal.
As I cross into the next town, I pass the grandiose private club where I would tag along with friends in elementary school. My tongue wraps around that nervous, salty taste as I climb up the high diving board, look down, and promptly climb back down. The fear fades in my rearview mirror.
I zip around the big parking lot where I once practiced driving, and feel my grip tighten on my steering wheel as if I’m, once again, behind the wheel of my dad’s old red pickup truck. I dip down small hills and bend around corners, passing bus stops where students wait and parents guzzle coffee. I sense my childhood accompanying me in my backseat on my way to my own classroom.
Pulling into the parking lot, I crank up the radio station that used to escort me to high school, then student teaching, and now here. I breathe in the air of my new adventure. I hear the homily, feel the hay, taste the sweat, and grip my wheel, as my future comes into view. Then, I pause, breathe, smile, and take a step into my next chapter.
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