Three students sit across from me on the bus. I debated sitting in the solitary chair in the back but I didn’t want the bus driver to think I was hiding. He was taking a smoke break when I got on so I dumped my money on the shelf next to the driver’s seat. After his break he approached me for money and I pointed to the front. He nodded OK. I should have sat in the back.
I don’t know where to look on the bus. It’s been a problem for a year now. I don’t want to stare at the floor and I always sit in a side seat so the view across is always other people. I like to think they struggle with the dilemma of where to look too, but their constant whispering and giggling in my direction suggests otherwise.
Instead I look out the back window. An older man has taken up residence in the solitary chair and he is staring at me. I thought he may have been looking past me, out the front, as if guiding the bus’s final destination with his eyes, but as I move my head back and forth his eyes follow. It’s my beard that draws his gaze. I finally resign to stare into my lap and turn the music in my headphones up.
I need coffee.
My first class went off very well. Aside from my sluggish stupor it held great promise for the year. The teacher I worked with, Tanya, is my favorite teacher and is not one that requires Peace Corps intervention. She stands and walks in class, encourages responses with a positive inflection or her voice and gestures with her hands. She smiles and laughs with the children and waits patiently for students to discover answers at their own pace. As much as I enjoy this I may have to request to work in a different class that actually needs me.
My next class was a bit more difficult. I was handed a lesson to teach and had to figure out how to produce it on the spot. I think it was mildly successful.
In the hallway the persistent student I mentioned before came over for a handshake greeting. He had on a plaid shirt.
‘Ah thank you. You like shirt I glad. I copy style after you. I like.’
‘Uh, great. It’s cool.’
The deep well of pain from not being able to go to America and work for the Peace Corps has been filled with mirroring my Portland based fashion sense. It’s good to know that these kids bounce back.
It could be worse, I suppose – he could have taken up drinking.
The day ended with a staff meeting. I do not have the skill to sleep with my eyes open but I am quite adept at looking in a direction and allowing my focus to complete fog over. I like to think this is how wide-eyed sleep training begins. I will keep practicing.