This past year has been one for the record books, especially for teachers. Scrambling to create virtual classrooms on the fly while dealing with food and technology disparities for our low socio-economic kiddos was, at times, overwhelming. Prolonged stress had left me burned out and bone-weary. Nothing, not even writing, could pull me from that infernal sense of detachment. My emotions were nonexistent; my imagination shrouded in darkness. Completely drained, I’d sit on the couch, watching endless home improvement shows, trying to convince myself I’d find the motivation to get off the couch at some point.
My fierce best friend, who is also a teacher, refused to fall into the same dark pattern I’d found and insisted we take a break and go on a road trip.
I grabbed the idea like a lifeline, and soon we’d plotted a course through the Smoky Mountains, across the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we stopped by Nora’s hometown of Waynesville, onto a tour of the Biltmore before hiking the waterfalls of the Pisgah National Forest. We called it the #shedthestress tour, and for one blessed week, we stayed off social media, didn’t answer emails, and only looked at the phone to see where we were on Google Maps. We shopped. Went on a Comedy Bus Tour. We ate delicious food. We drank low-carb alcohol and a little moonshine and sat by the pool :-).
We gambled at the casino in Cherokee, North Carolina, floated down a lazy river, and got sunburnt.
We had new experiences and made memories that focused on friendship and hope. And somewhere between the beauty of the mountains and endless laughter, my shoulders relaxed, the air smelled a little sweeter, the colors seemed brighter, and I found peace.
I’ve been home for a few days now, and, thank God, the words are starting to flow again.
I know recovering from the insanity of this past year will take more than a week, but it’s a good start. Nora always called the mountains her sanctuary, her healing land, and she’s right.