Waking Up

on the riverwalk

It’s been really hard to shake the feeling that I’ve just woken up from a really long sleep. That’s because these recent weeks seem so dreamlike, so unreal, or perhaps, even surreal.

Just about eleven weeks ago to the day, I got word that a company that hires civilian contractors for the US military was interested in employing me to do educational work of an intercultural sort. This news came suddenly, while I was visiting my sick grandmother in West Texas. The job offer came with one stipulation—that my wife and I relocate to San Antonio, Texas, within a matter of days.

So we packed up, quickly. We were only able to take with us the few things we could fit into our Subaru. I managed to get online and was able to reserve a room in a place called Studio 6 Extended Stay—an old Motel 6 facility that had decked out a number of its rooms with kitchens and cooking utensils.

We moved into the place, bought groceries to fill up our fridge. The following day, I started one of the most intense orientation and training programs—along with seven other trainees—ever devised by human beings. I arrived at my new workplace a few minutes after 6 a.m. each morning. Our days were filled with “briefings” and then we did all sorts of practice teaching that was observed by a large number of people who wrote up reports on what they’d seen us do. We were like lab rats sent running through mazes in search of chunks of cheese. Not all of us passed these early tests. It was boot camp for teachers and some of us were let go before the real work even got started.

I find it incredibly hard to believe that it’s been a touch less than three months since we arrived in San Antonio. In some ways, it seems like a year or more has gone by. In other ways, it seems like mere days.

I’ve been mostly exhausted since all this got started. Finally, though, I’m beginning to catch my breath. I’ve even started to wake up from this dream-state I’ve been in. I’ve mostly been in survival mode, just doing those basic things that each day required of me, but now I’m beginning to think about writing. The old creative juices are beginning to flow again. This means more blogging—of a regular sort—is in the offing.

The photo I’ve included, at the outset of this piece, is a nice one and full of symbolism. It was one of the earliest ones I took in San Antonio—on one of our visits to the city’s famed Riverwalk, downtown. In it, Azza and I have just stepped across a threshold and a dome-shaped ceiling can be seen overhead. Behind us is a wall, a waterfall, and the past. We are wearing shades as we are looking forward, toward the camera, into a bright future. We are smiling and wearing expressions of expectation. Something about us in the photo suggests that we are travelers or explorers, embarking on a sojourn that will provide plenty of wonderful surprises.

 

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