It’s spring break, I’m on vacation, and I’m sitting in a laundromat. A large insect is buzzing at my ear, a book of poetry occupies the sunken basin of a molded plastic seat next to me, and a cavalcade of tattooed locals have spent the last half hour reminding me, with their laughing vulgarities, that even in paradise people have dirty shorts.
Spring break is one of the most delicious parts of being an educator. It means time to slow down after one of the most grueling stretches of the school year. It’s a time to spend a few days with my wife and kids, change up the usual routine, and breathe deep the renewal needed to make it through Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride from April to June.
Education, like the ocean, is made up of high tides and lows. In my twenty plus years in the game, I’ve gotten better at letting go of the stresses of work and embracing the freedom that comes from a week without an alarm clock or daily planner. Most years we stay close to home, but this year we were able to get out of town. It’s a luxury not part of every spring break, though today, sitting in this sunny laundromat, hugged by a bucket seat straight out of 1978, I’m nothing but thankful to have been gone from home long enough to need to do laundry.
Spring break for students looks different than mine, with less poetry, less laundry, and less resting. Theirs is often a week of enthusiasm and adventure, climbing things, listening to music, skiing, swimsuits, and fires on the beach. All those things are great too, particularly for the young, though for me these ninety minutes of peace, an interlude between kayaking and an evening walk beneath Morro Rock, are sublime. The hum of dryers, the laughter of locals, the scratching of my pen on this yellow legal pad, even the buzzing of that sinister looking bug, these sounds speak spring renewal to me.
A few short days from now I’ll be back at my desk, elbow deep in the final quarter of the school year. I have no doubt that one day in May I’ll think back to this afternoon at the laundromat and be grateful. There is little sweeter than spring break, in whatever incarnation it takes, and much good to gain if those of us fortunate enough to get this time can allow ourselves to relax, renew, and return to school as fresh as a newly laundered pair of shorts.