I’ve always dreaded the 405 freeway that runs north and south from the valley to San Diego. Well, almost. But, for the past 17 months I have been using it to commute to EF International school in Redondo Beach, where I teach ESL or EFL (your choice). Day after day after day.
This particular life saga began two years ago. Stranded in Nyrita airport in Tokyo for 5 days, I met a guy who had just finished teaching English in Korea. Our discussions led me to the conclusion that reinventing myself as an English teacher could pay for my traveling lust. One is never too old for either.
After an exhausting 120 hours of intensive study the following January: think grammar learned in 3rd grade, resurrected from long, unused folds in your brain- and then some, I got my teaching certificate in Costa Rica. Only the salsa dancing and new friendships kept me sane.
A few weeks later, I came to Los Angeles with the intention of spending just a couple of months because my granddaughter, for reasons best left out, was living here with her best friend. Ahh. I just wanted to be close-to lend support for her if needed. I didn’t want to interfere with her life, but to be a small part of it. With that in mind, I took a job teaching ESL at EF. I intended it to be a temporary one, just for the summer. Ha. Cooper’s living arrangement ended abruptly. Mine too. Suddenly, I rented an apartment and we were living together.
16 months later, our relationship is tattered and torn like an old wedding dress from a bad marriage. I remember the feeling of being lonely in my own house, awake at night, worrying if someone I love is safe. It is not a good one. Our wildly fluctuating emotions have left a wake of sadness, resentment, and anger. I am exhausted.
Cooper will leave in two weeks with her mother, my daughter, Alice, to live in Oklahoma. I hope it will be a healing/growing time for her, because she is a precious, but wounded, adult-child making childish, potentially harmful decisions. I will love her from a distance.
I am heading to Chongqing, China where I’ll be teaching at Chongqing Normal University. With 55,000 students, it is one of the largest universities in China and boasts of having top-notch medical and art schools. Situated on a peninsula where the Yangzi and Jialing Rivers meet, Chongqing is said to be frequently shrouded in daytime haze and fog. The Lonely Planet reports that it is a city that comes alive at night, neon lights giving it a showgirl sparkle. I love sparkle.
The weather in Chonqing is generally hot. The cuisine is hot. The local food: hotpots. I can only guess about that. Eat hot to stave off the heat? Fine by me. Plus, as suggested by a teacher who is leaving, I will buy a bicycle. Goodbye street cleaning tickets, traffic jams & high gas prices. Hello lowered cholesterol & blood pressure. He also reports that my apartment is a comfy two bedroom with washer, dryer, and television. Chinese television! I’m told my students are delightful; that they are eager to learn. Imagine that.
Next July I plan to head north through China to Mongolia for their main festival. I have wanted to ride a Mongolian pony across the steppes since I was 12. The time has come.
After that, who knows? Maybe another gig in China; maybe another country? I have wanted to work at the Limbe Primate Sanctuary in Cameroon. Maybe the primates would enjoy learning ESL or they will teach me their language?
Life is full of possibilities. One thing for sure though, no matter how well organized you are, plans change. The road you take for granted can be heading someplace completely different than you think. So, Carpe Diem or as Poppy New says, ” Only wrestle one aligator at a time.”