I live in an apartment block. Some people have dogs, some people have cats.
We have a cat.
Our cat belongs here. He is the boss, the ruler, the king. We are his servants.
If he decides he wants to use my office chair as his day bed, I am back to using a dining chair. If he decides he wants to use our new foot stool as his napping throne, we are back to not having a foot stool. If he wants breakfast at 3am, well… you know what happens.
Our cat and I have an understanding, and a knowing of how our roles work. He belongs. I belong. He doesn’t long for the outdoors, to see what’s beyond, he is content, this is his place.
I don’t get the same sense from the dog across the way though. I can see him as I peer over my balcony. He is alone, sitting, waiting.
His sad eyes let me know he is pondering what else there might be. The concrete courtyard doesn’t feel right, the fake grass is uncomfortable, and his legs have the sense of wanting to move, fast, but there is no where to go. He longs.
As we sit in homes, looking at a screen, we long.
As we sit in empty classrooms, we long.
As we sit next to empty seats in the staffroom, we long.
As we send emails, we long.
As we read emails, we long.
As we connect with students from a distance, we long.
As we shed silent tears, we long.
As we ask questions, we long.
As we receive answers, we long.
As we grieve, we long.
As we get to know new ways, we long.
As we remember how it used to be, we long.
For some time to come, we will long. We will long for our students, to hug them or give them a high five, to see them run around the playground together and have them squish together into assembly halls. We will long for staff meetings where we can talk to each other and team meetings where all we do is laugh. We will long for what we used to know.
It’s OK to long for what we used to know, even as we begin to take small steps back to school, the classroom, our students, this longing will stay with us.
Know what it is you long for, know that that thing may or may not come back, but don’t stay here too long, instead shift your focus, find opportunity, find somewhere you do belong.