Time is an odd structure. I’ve always had difficulty in dealing with it, understanding it. I suppose it was my reinvent-the-wheel moment when it occurred to me that time is what you make of it.
We’ve spent a year in lockdown, our nation of people. We’ve been afraid, cautious, angered. And determined. We’ve been everything we used to be, and also someones we would never dream of being.
I, for one, couldn’t have imagined myself staying indoors for more than twenty-four hours. And yet, days and weeks have gone by, while I went about chores, lessons, office hours, teaching, learning and studying. All within four walls. I won’t say it’s been horrible, because it hasn’t. I’ve caught up with those little things that are always swept away – until there was enough time. I’ve kept in touch with the people that matter most – and to whom I thankfully matter the most in turn. I have crafted. I have cooked. I have written. I have kept my practice (my dream?) going forward.
I cannot lie. There is one thing I’ve missed: physical contact. Actual, face-to-face contact. The smiles and grunts of my students’ faces. The hugs with my #RP group at the start of every meeting. The hugs with my family. I’ll admit to being a very literally, seriously touchy-feely person. It just means so much. And I’ve been deprived of it, to keep us all safe. I wasn’t sure I could cope, but, hey, we have so far. Which made me think harder about what actually works for me best: is physical contact a necessity? Or am I rebelling against principles? Yes, I’m told what to do and what not to do. Is that my issue?
Seeing as I couldn’t come to a conclusion on this, I turned to my companions – a peculiar term in our case, perhaps, but how would you call those who share your journeys in equal measure of awe? Our meeting was awkward at first, being confronted with the screen and all the usual online bits and pieces. After having ensured we could all see and hear each other, the moment of truth came with vengeance: we were supposed to initiate a discussion on translanguaging – perceptions, undestanding and maybe practices; but we didn’t. We couldn’t. We looked at each other, hopeful, expecting one of us to just say the words: we can’t deal with this.
Iliana sent a message, a smiley face. And I smiled back at my screen, watching all seven of us follow suit. It takes one, doesn’t it? Well, ladies, let’s talk rebellion.
And we did. It didn’t really matter that our day topic was instantly rejected, put in the bin both online and offline. That might have been our topic on a normal day. But these days are anything but normal. So we rebelled against ourselves, our every day teacher-selves. We each brought our coffees and teas to support us, next to our keypads. And we began our #RP cycle at carte blanche. Our fears, our struggles. Our successes. Us.
Isn’t it nice to simply begin anew sometimes? Don’t people feel invincible when in the company of like-minded peers? I did. I felt empowered. I deeply and sincerely felt the proof that no matter what you have planned, there is always something you could not have foreseeen. And I truly love those moments.