Thanks Dudes.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
— Albert Schweitzer

So here I sit. In a tiny little room, in a great big city. Beating myself up, as I am wont to do, for not writing more, for not enjoying my work more, for not doing more traveling while I’ve been here. For not getting out in the sun; not reading enough books; not writing enough letters.

Forgetting, of course, that I am healthier now than I have ever been. That I’ve been running along the Thames every other day – something I never dreamed I’d be strong enough to do. That I’ve published five articles in the last month, and made a lot of progress on other creative projects close to my heart. That I’ve met countless amazing kids and touched their lives. That I’ve been to Paris, crossed the English Channel, seen Stonehenge. That I’ve wandered one of the greatest cities in the world, explored its nooks and crannies, blended into its cosmopolitan crowds – and even voted for one of its MPs (Labour, if you’re curious).

I’ll be heading home in almost exactly a month. I’ve got a few more adventures on my calendar before then, but as this first leg of being a Londoner winds down, I find myself in a reflective mood (I mean really, is there any other kind?). And it occurs to me that I owe some shouts out to my geographically diverse, but universally amazing, tribe. This experience has been a life-changer, and all I’ve accomplished, personally and professionally, does not belong to me alone.

  • It belongs to my mum and dad, who believed that I could do this even though they knew how much I’ve struggled to figure out what to do with my life, and without whose moral and financial support I wouldn’t have lasted this long.
  • It belongs to all of my aunts, Rita and Georgia and Kathy and Diane, and my cousin Stephanie, who have been incredibly kind with their comments and emails about my writing and my adventure. Knowing that I am part of such a loving family has always been vital to my sense of self – but being so far away and still feeling that love has been incredible.
  • It belongs to Aliesha and Andrew, whose handwritten letters have made me laugh and cry and have been something to hold in my hands, a tangible piece of home.
  • It belongs to Janet, who laughs at all my jokes even when they’re incredibly lame, and always makes me feel like a superstar. It’s a rare gift, to be able to bring out the awesome in other people. I hope that I do it half as well as she does, as a teacher and a friend.
  • It belongs to Eli, who helped talk me down when it was three hours before my flight to Italy and I had a fever but wanted to go anyway because I was afraid other people might think I wasn’t making the most of living here. As always, he is a shining example of doing things because they’re part of being who you are, not who you think other people want you to be.
  • It belongs to Kim, whose strength has always sustained me, and whose pleas that I come home already, so she can kidnap me and make me stay forever, make me feel incredibly loved.
  • It belongs to Neigele, who put up with my cranky as I fit her into my solitary routine, and who is an incredibly upbeat travel companion, even after 15 hours.
  • It belongs to Slav, who IMs me almost every day to gossip about TV and politics, and who makes me feel closer to home. Thanks dude. And yeah, what DID happen to Mr Eko, anyway?
  • It belongs to my brother. It just does. Because he’s in the middle of figuring out what the hell he wants to do with himself, too, and excelling at it, but he still has time to just hang out with me from half a world away and while away the hours watching videos and laughing, just as if we were still roommates.
  • And it belongs to Marty and Carolyn, and Jen and Rhiannon, and every teacher that helped me become one. Including Marley, who got me my very first teaching job, and has supported me through every professional step I’ve taken since. I learned invaluable techniques from each of them, and getting to put those into practice and experiment with them has been one of the true joys of living and working over here.

And my success here also belongs to my new friends:

  • Anita, who I met in a cafe across from the British museum, like something out of a movie, and whose kindness and creativity was the first thing to draw me out of my protective shell in this strange new country.
  • Dave and the crew at LOTNA, who welcomed me into their club with open arms, and introduced me to my very first Doctor.
  • Janine and Clare, my Glee girls, the first people here to make me feel truly at home – and in Janine’s case, creator of the tastiest meal I’ve had since Paris, the spinach/mozzarella/pinenut/onion chutney panini. You should really come up with a snappy name for it, darling.
  • Pete, who has great taste in movies, and can talk about them for even longer than I can – and always has something interesting to say, which is more than I can claim.
  • And it belongs to the teachers I’ve met and learned from: my current co-teacher Gaynor; all the ladies of the English department at Bishop Wand Secondary; Katie and Mike at the agency; and a devastatingly handsome English teacher at a certain west London school who, while he’ll remain nameless here, will always be my hero for stepping gracefully into the breach the first time I really lost it with a class.
  • And of course, the students. With a few exceptions (and hey, everyone has bad days), they have been sweethearts to a boy and girl. They have continually surprised and delighted me with their intelligence, their humour, and their individuality. They remind me, every day, that they aren’t just bundles of energy to be kept under control, but people, trying to learn what they can and enjoy themselves while they do it. I’m incredibly proud to have been even a small part of their school experience.

So that’s my big, scmaltzy love letter to everyone – including me. A huge part of this experience has been me being with myself for long chunks of time, and as many of you know, that’s not necessarily an easy task. But we have learned from each other, me myself and I, and plumbed depths of strength and inspiration I didn’t know I had – and never would have found if I didn’t have such an amazing network of friends, family, mentors and colleagues. Thanks dudes.

Here are some photographs from the past month, including some friends, new and old. Rest assured, there are fewer than fifty pics in each set – I’ve finally gotten a handle on my photo fever. As always, be sure to read the captions for a few little stories about my wanderings:

And here are some links to Schmapp, who selected two my photographs to be in their new guide to London:

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aunt Kathy on June 7, 2010 at 2:08 am

    ello!
    Thats hello for you in London. Another great read, thanks for sharing. Where are all your published articles? Can we check them out?
    Are you going back to London? Did you say that somewhre and I missed it?

    We are busy packing for our next adventure in Windsor ON which happens June 24- 25..

    I am going to connect with your Mom and Dad in the next week for sure.

    Aunt K.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Stephanie K. on July 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Awesome Blogs Sam! They have been a pleasure to read and to share with the kids. I enjoyed all the pictures and I have to say that the “photo bug” in you MUST be a family trait! I go snap happy all the time and quite often get teased by mom and the kids, but I love photography and it is such a fun way to share and recall memories. Now that I am off for the summer I will be able to write more as my stress level has gone way done and I have a bit more time to do things for me!
    My next adventure this fall is going to by High School. I have not been with this age group since my first placement, but I am really looking forward to it. Meg, not so much at the moment as it will be her first year in HS and she thinks that I will “ruin” it for her! Silly girl, she thinks I will have nothing better to do than to follow her around! Her friends all think that it is cool that I will be with them, I think that Meg will come to enjoy it as well! Anyway, again, great Blogs and Pics, talk to you soon,
    Love Steph

    Reply

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