SK drives back to college tomorrow--to Spokane, where 63 inches of record-breaking snow lies in wait. She's not excited about living in snow for the next several months. I can't even imagine snow almost as tall as I am. The day after that, Beve and J go back to school as well, though they only have to drive across town to get there.
We've had a wonderful, calm vacation. Watched a lot of sports, a lot of movies, loved being with our favorite people, and laughed hysterically at times. See, during these breaks, a different person lives in our house--'vacation-Beve,' the jolly doppelganger of 'work-Beve.' Work-Beve leaves the house before the sky streaks red in the morning and returns after the last burst of color has tipped over the horizon this time of year. He has 440 kids to keep straight in his head, not to mention their parents, teachers and administrators. Paperwork piles up on his desk as he confronts one fire after another every single day. Sometimes, by the time he gets home at night, he's talked so much during the day that he barely wants to open his mouth. He stretches his legs about halfway across a room, tips his head back on a couch, and closes his eyes, because he needs to let the weight of the day slip away before he talks to us. He isn't ever unkind, but sometimes over the years when he's dealt with a particularly difficult student, he is a little firmer with our kids. It's understandable--to all of us--I mean, he dwells with people who make some of the worst choices imaginable to humans. A few weeks ago, for example, a couple of his students were arrested right in the school--for doing heroin in a bathroom. So, as a dad, a dad who loves his children, and knows that they make good choices (for the most part), it's knee-jerk for him to want them to be even better.
We all understand why Beve sometimes has a short (ish) temper, why he's so stressed. His job isn't for the weak-kneed and faint of heart. But...we all prefer--we ADORE!--'vacation-Beve'. Vacation-Beve is literally the funniest man on this planet. I'm not kidding. Sometimes he's a little irreverent, and sometimes (especially now that none our kids are teenagers) a little off-color. He can see the ridiculous in the ordinary, just as I see the spiritual. Between us, we're a pretty good balance for our kids. With vacation-Beve around, it's hard to take myself or the world too seriously, even when serious, even deadly, things happen. Beve is so comfortable in his own giant skin, that no matter what he's doing, he's able to poke fun at himself and at us. There was the time when he dressed up in a much-too small Hawaiian outfit a friend had given him--he came strutting out of the bedroom like he was modeling at New York Fashion week. There was the time when he and this same friend dressed up in Sumo-wrestlers body-suits and had a great mock-fight. Our friend is 10 inches shorter than Beve, and when Beve jumped on him we all laughed so hard, we couldn't stand. There was time at the Calgary stampede when he took a picture of E next to the grand-prize-winning bull, whose sperm count was listed beside the ribbon, and whose balls were the size of volleyballs; and the time he bought a couple of sale soap-dishes then stuck one down his pants because it looked exactly like a baseball cup. I can't tell you how often we've laughed until we practically peed our pants and cried. And he has this unbelievable gift--he can look at a person and instantly see their resemblance to cartoon characters. Over the years we've been friends with Touche` Turtle, Tweety-Bird, Fred Flintstone, to name a few. As I say, a strong sense of the ridiculous.
Ah yes, vacation-Beve. It's the best thing about vacations, and the hardest part of seeing them end. I love every side of my Beve, honestly I do, but I could live a long time with vacation-Beve and not come close to getting tired of him.
The differences in Beve may be more obvious than in most of us, but we all have them. Stress inevitably changes us. But I wish--I crave--the sense of calm, joy and even the ridiculous that comes when we let go of the normal stresses of life, and fully live every day. Beve, are you listening to me? I'm talking to you...but then, I'm talking to the rest of us as well. Thanks for the great vacation. I'll miss you.