Thirteen months ago I was in Baltimore. That was a simpler time, when I could never have imagined what would come so quickly.
The hotel was nice. I was on a higher floor than I would normally be comfortable with, but the view was lovely. I didn’t spend too much time in the room, though, because I was there for a convention. If you’ve never been to a convention before, I would certainly recommend it.
There were thousands of other English teachers there. If I called them my tribe I wouldn’t be exaggerating the term. It was my fourth such convention, but probably my favorite, because of how far I’ve come since my first. I remember, shortly after I registered, I found a seat in a foursome around a table and chatted with a guy for whom it was his first convention.
It’s funny how things come full circle.
There were so many people at each session, the chairs so full, the hallways so crowded. There was no way to get through without saying “excuse me” a lot, but that was great. The energy was great. I had no way of knowing it would be the last major gathering I would attend, but I enjoyed it like it was the last great gathering I would attend. For a while, anyway.
I learned a lot, too, things I incorporated into my classroom this year, both in the physical space and online. But the trip was more than just that. It was not unlike a pilgrimage, to pay homage to everything about the craft of teaching–and of teaching English–that I love so much.
I remember driving out of Baltimore early on Sunday morning to a light rain that increased in intensity as I hit the road to come back home. It turned to snow as I crossed the border into New York state, which was fitting, because it’s been some form of snow ever since. When I think back to 2019, and November, and Baltimore, I wish it could be like that again.
I bow my head, and I pray for rain.