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Ever feel like you’re on the outside looking in?

 

This is the first time since 2004 that I haven’t been a part of an opening of school and a new academic year, and it’s weird. In some ways, I imagine it is what it feels like to go through detox or to lose a limb—feeling things that aren’t there anymore.

The anxiety is ramping up. Butterflies are fluttering in my stomach. I am trying as hard as I can to make use of every available free second I have. I find myself still dreading the changing of the leaves, and the prospect of the crazy opening of school schedule with endless faculty meetings in which everyone is glued to either their phones or laptops, the faculty party in which everyone asks what I did this summer (I worked, dammit!), and the arrival of students excited to see their friends again after the summer break.

My body seems to still be anticipating exhausting travel to sometimes awful and sometimes awe-inspiring but mostly mundane corners of the globe. Shouldn’t I be spending much more time on Delta’s and Marriott’s website? Shouldn’t I be calling my travel agent? Shouldn’t I be calling my counterparts at other schools trying to coordinate some crazy trip around the world?

And yet, none of that is coming for me this year. I’m watching others go through it—friends and past colleagues—and I keep asking myself, “Will I miss it?”

Will I wake up in the middle of some October night wondering where I am as I have done many times each fall?

Will I wake up one morning and momentarily panicked, wondering if I’m supposed to be on a plane, headed to some unknown country?

Will I scan my brain wondering how to say, “Thank you” in the native language while ordering my latte at the coffee shop down the street?

“Will I miss it?”

No. No, I don’t believe I will. But old habits and rhythms take time to run their course.

 

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