Thursday, August 26, 2010

Year Two

One of the many organizational helps that D left behind is in that funny little closet that holds the central heat and air unit in the hallway. There is a ziplock bag with a spreadsheet to record the date each month when I change the filter. I'd love to say I remember to do this each month. (It is not for lack of writing utensils, because he left several pens in the ziplock as well.) According to the number of spaces on the sheet, it should last me until about 2021. The bag also contains yellow copies of any work that has been done on the HVAC unit (don't judge me because I know fancy technical phrases) and warranties.

All of this came in very handy today. You see, the first day of school on Monday found the mercury soaring to 107 degrees; Tuesday it was 108. Even in central Texas, this is considered hot as ... well, anything. (I'd use the "h" word, but I teach seven year olds who can read well now.) Imagine our bliss when we heard that a "cold front" was blowing through last night. It dropped the temperatures to the high 90s, and I'm here to testify that  felt significantly cooler.   Can I get a witness from fellow teachers who have playground duty?

It was, alas, too late for my central air. The heat caused it to overwork itself, freeze up and leak water. I'd seen D change towels out on that funny shelf in that funny closet over the years, but never paid any attention to how it all got fixed in the end. I finally called the A/C people listed on every sheet in the ziplock bag spanning a period of 10 years. The friendly secretary said the serviceman could meet me at home after school, but that I should turn the A/C off and leave just the fan running. Which would have been doable if I hadn't been in my classroom calling on my break. Quality Friend Connie to the rescue! I may or may not have a hidden key outside my house, and she slipped inside to switch off the unit so my house didn't float away due to condensation pouring out of the unit.

The repairman was polite, efficient and immediately effective. He let me watch and take notes, and explained I should be adding one cup of water mixed with one cup of bleach to the T valve by the W valve each month when I change the filter. But only during A/C months.  And then my head spun off and rolled down the hall. How did I live decades with central air and never know that algae grows during the summer in the drain and can clog the unit? Anyone else know that? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

So, my A/C is fixed. My head is full of new things I should know but didn't. And I'm once again aware that D's terminal illness left him time to prepare some things that are helpful for me like my Central Air Tutorial in a Ziplock. 

But he must have forgotten the advice for how to continue on in life without him.

It hit me pretty hard the other day that I spent the last year mourning the loss of D. But now? I find myself mourning the loss of me. Of my old life. The one that is gone forever. 

I try to console myself that all my empty-nester friends are watching their children scatter across the country, and many of them are now living alone. Or with just a husband. Which is not a "just" at all.

 Again: I don't feel lonely. I just feel so alone. My days are filled in my classroom. I love teaching, children, their parents, my fellow teachers and so on. But there is so much time that it is just me. I know I need to get out more. (Probably part of my problem is that most of my friends are in the teaching profession and the first weeks of school are just Peak Season for us all. ) No one seems to be available.

I'm not giving in to self-pity. People become widows all the time and figure out a way through it all. With my strong Swedish heritage, and the longevity of my relatives who almost all lived to be 100, I am probably not even half way through my life. And to quote Garth, I am much too young to feel this old. And alone.

Waiting for the rejuvenation that a cool fall always brings. And looking for a balance to fill in the gaps called "alone".


Craig Weeks said...

Whether accurate or not I am consoling myself with the belief that the Ziploc Bag o' Guidance was deliberately put there for your benefit and was not his normal practice. Otherwise my reputation for attention to detail was just crushed by a far, far better man than me.

Dawn said...

Oh, my... we had the same situation last weekend. And we got instruction on the water/bleach trick, too. Who knew?


I'm available. Call me. And let me know if you ever want to watch a Friday night football game at RRHS. We will have an extra ticket some weeks. (And don't feel bad if you don't want to stay the whole game - I always make it through halftime since I'm really there for the band anyway! - but I often leave during the 2nd half.)

Amy said...

Rayeanne, I love you!!!
Amy, fellow teacher and friend

Lynn said...

I am back home, had a fantastic time with my family, will email soon. Sorry about your AC not working. I actually turned my fireplace on today!! This is one of the coolest summers I remember. Glad I had a couple really great weeks in BC.

When you said you were grieving the loss of you, it resonated with me. I understand that so well. Life goes on, but it is not the same.