To Forget How to Human

When my alarm went off at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I stared at it in vague recollection, the way I do a person I think I know on public transportation. It took me a little while to figure out that I had to do get out of bed and do stuff which leads to the replenishment of my salary.

I put on a T shirt and a sock.

It’s been two weeks away from school, it’s not as if I’ve been on sabbatical for a year, just Christmas break. So why was it that after 14 days I was struggling to remember how to pack my bag, choose a shirt, or write in a style suitable for people?

I plodded out for coffee.

Christmas is a blissful far off oasis. When it comes, it’s as if the world has come to a delightful end. The year technically ends after Christmas, but I seemed to view the time after Christmas (we’ll call this time January) as an entirely different epoch. Sometimes on Fridays I’ll say “Oh let’s just leave it for Monday,” the whole while secretly and perhaps subconsciously hoping that something will happen over the weekend that removes my need to deal with it. This was like that. I had hoped something would occur that cancelled January.

But it didn’t. And now that it was here my brain was in some kind of denial. Add this to the inviting, freezing, pitch black January morning and I understood the motivation for seppuku.

After coffee, I put on underwear and a pair of pants. I washed my face and brushed my teeth.

There was also the anticipation of things to come today. Boy, it was ominous. The university has exams after Christmas. This, if you ask me (and every student at the school) breaks the natural order of the universe and would be punishable by the rack, the Iron Maiden, or forcibly listening to several hours of Trump speeches in order to make some kind of sense of them.

The students were going to be miserable. There was nothing to look forward to now but the week of quiet after their exams. I repeat: after their exams. This meant that they still had to get through their exams. Hey guys, you can relax, just after you cross this river filled with piranhas and essay tasks.

I could only stretch out my “How was your holiday?” cheeriness for so long. “Was Ježíšek good to you?” sounded silly in my head. Pretty soon we had to get to work and that was going to be a rude awakening.

By the time I found a shirt that didn’t look as though it had been used to map out trigonometry equations (who irons on holiday?), I was beginning to stand upright again, I loosened my jaw and spoke multisyllabic words to the cat.

For two weeks I didn’t have much human interaction. I went to pubs where they know my order and the grocery store where I hand some guy a debit card and tell him I don’t want a bonus club card. I took a trip to Budapest, where my linguistic abilities were worse than they are here. I read, I wrote, I watched a hundred hours of movies and documentaries. My brain has been on intake mode, not output mode.

Today, not only did I have to talk to people, I had to be Teacher Person.

As I left my house wearing mismatched socks and no belt, it dawned on me that the students and I would be fine. We were basically in the same boat. The toughest part of coming back from Christmas was that the thing to look forward to was now behind us. And for the next thing, I, like them, had to look past the exams to the quiet time after the exam period. The piranhas in my river were grading tests not taking them and the essay tasks were given by me not to me. And then, another oasis.

But we’d get there. Until then, I practiced cheerfully optimistic on the way to the metro. “How was your holiday?” I cracked my jaw. “Was Ježíšek good to you?”

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