So I’ve been meaning to tell you about my new water bottle (and my new job) for a while now.
Late last school year, a yearbook adviser friend announced she was leaving the country. And even though I was happy at my previous school, I applied for her job, at a bigger, more prestigious high school only three miles from my house. I’d be doing the exact same stuff, only closer to home and for more money. All it would take is changing my entire professional life.
I got the job. I said some tearful goodbyes to my friends and students last spring and braced myself all summer for a new school.
To prepare, I bought a new water bottle: the Contigo 24oz. Ashland. She’s a beaut. The spout opens and closes with only one hand. I was no longer tyrannized by water bottles that required both hands to use. Nor would my students ridicule me for using the same Smart Water bottle over and over, until I eventually left it in the media center or mail room or bathroom or wherever. Nope. I’m now a responsible adult, with a new job and a non-disposable water bottle that tells the world just what a grown up I am.
So I’ve had this water bottle for as long as I’ve had this new job. It’s been challenging. Despite 8 years of teaching under my belt, this felt like my very first year. It mirrored my first year in a lot of ways. The 9th graders before me were just as disruptive, uninterested, and troubled as my first year. I seemed as woefully unprepared for their shenanigans as I was in my first year. Students would angrily storm out of class. I would go home wondering if I had what it took to teach.
And all the while, I’ve had to keep track of this damn water bottle. “You can’t lose this thing, Harding. It was eight dollars!” So everywhere I went, I’d have my trusty Contigo 24oz. Ashland with me:
In the media center, while other teachers used my classroom during my planning;
in the yearbook room, where I’ve never felt less confident in something that I thought I was good at;
in parent conferences, where I’d get scolded for being unfair to the student who never did any classwork but did twerk on his desk a few times;
in countless meetings, so many meetings. I went to more meetings last semester–about curriculum, data, climate, and acronyms! acronyms! acronyms!–than I went to in the last three years at my old school. It’s ok, really. Just different.
or the faculty break room, where I’d go to just collect myself during lunch, and regret leaving the school that I missed, or wonder if I wanted to come back the next day to teach kids 31 at a time, who seemed to hate me and English, in that order.
Throughout all this, I had my water bottle. I never lost the thing. And I lose everything. It’s why I’ll never buy nice sunglasses, or pens, or anything that people put down for just a second. I was taking a real gamble, dropping $8 on a water bottle, honestly.
But the water bottle is still here. And I’m still here. It’s a new semester. My schedule changed a little. My class sizes are better. I’ve got a semester under my belt to prove I can survive a new setting, some upheaval. I upheaved. I have heaved up so much. Me and my Contigo. You should really get one. The whole one-handed spout is a real game changer.