ten days one week left in Hungary. I have never used an hourglass, but I can now understand the notion of literally watching time go by. This week was incredibly tolling on my spirit, because as excited as I am to come back to the states, leaving Hungary means leaving a community behind. The final school week, the one teachers look forward to more than students do, came and went. A revelation only understood after-the-fact, I would not stand at the front of room 18 anymore and teach these kids. I would probably never see them again. All the time focusing on the end and now that its here, I want to rewind.
Thursday was a weird rollercoaster of a day. The day after your birthday is always filled with a sense of lackluster, but Thursday left me with a feeling of loss. After an uneventful hour at the bank in attempts to close my Hungarian bank account, Jenna and I were led into our Principal’s office to discuss other options of receiving June’s pay while we are out of the country. It was bizarre to sit at his desk again. I haven’t sat there since our first day at Gonczy Pal, when we were working out our schedules. That first time was just the same as the last. Jenna and I were filled with uncertainty and confusion as Gyongyi and Tibi worked over logistics of our predicaments in a language we couldn’t comprehend. This time I sat in silence and soaked in the experience.
After the meeting, I said my see-you-laters to Emily as she caught the train back to Nyirbator. That was hard to see such a close friend leave, unsure of the next time we will see each other, even if we will be living in the same country (not even-Em is moving to Montreal).
Then Jenna and I were ushered into the school’s gymnasium for a surprise farewell celebration for the two of us. The gym was decorated with banners of bears and rainbows, an airplane and a few dozen roses. The event consisted of several songs and dances, including ‘True Colors,’ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ and ‘You are My Sunshine.’ I would like to refer to this program as ‘Cryfest 2012.’ The closing of the ceremony involved our students reciting poems and then bringing us a rose and kissing us on either cheek. This went on for a while, until all the roses were in our hands. The grand finale of the whole shebang was each class coming up to our mock thrown and giving us hugs, kisses, notes, chocolates, flowers, pictures, and other Hungarian gifts. There were a lot of tears- not just from the kids.
As far as last days of school goes, Friday was pretty melancholy. I didn’t get to have my third graders as I planned because their form teacher wanted to keep them- understandable. For the rest of the day I sat at picnic tables and talked with my students. The whole school was out in the garden. I brought my computer and let my students take pictures of themselves on my photo booth. My older students brought me gifts of wine and desk accessories- sweet gestures, but things I will not be able to bring home.
The teachers called for Jenna and I to meet in the teacher’s room for a good-bye from the faculty. Tibi said a few things in Hungarian, they were translated to us, and we were presented with gifts. I got a beautiful decorative bottle of Palinka and Jenna received a decorative clock. I took the stage and gave the teachers my many thanks for all their support and accommodations. I let them know that I will always consider Hungary, Hajduszoboszlo, and Gonczy Pal as home.
Saturday was the school-leaver’s ceremony. All the eighth graders were dressed in their black and white uniforms used only for special occasions. The ceremony was at nine in the morning, so it was still relatively cool for the day so late in June. I was in the shade and comfortably wearing a cardigan- so not ready for Florida’s heat. The hallways were covered in flowers. Flowers were on all the windowsills, arranged over every doorway, hanging in bouquets on doors, on desks, and petals were strewn on the floors lining the walls. Was this a graduation ceremony or a wedding? I can’t imagine anyone in Hajduszoboszlo finding fresh flowers for the next couple of weeks.
Watching the ceremony, I was again met with a feeling of weird déjà-vu from the beginning of the year. Only this time the school wasn’t welcoming new students, they were sending them off. The same look of fear I saw on the first-graders’ faces was plastered on the eighth graders. New schools, new friends, completely out of their comfort zones. I never taught the eight graders, so I didn’t really say anything to them, but I sure felt empathy for them.
Last night I went into Debrecen with Krisztina and Tunde. We walked around the University campus for a while and ate carrot cake. The University was putting on a night run, something I would have totally signed up for had I known about it. There were runners in neon green running vests peppered all over the courtyard in front of the University’s main building. There was a large LCD screen over the finish line with a count down for the race’s start. From time to time I would look over at the screen and realize ten more minutes had passed in Hungary. Ten minutes less. I was literally watching time go by. I had to get out of there.
We took an unexpected detour to the university’s Medical department, where the Maternity ward is located. And walked right in to visit a friend of Krisztina’s who had given birth to a beautiful boy two days earlier. We stood and stared at this somber creature get blanketed in love by his tranquil mother. I have seen mothers of newborns interact with their child and it always brings me great joy, but watching this stranger offer a finger for her new one was too much. That feeling of newness washed over me again, but this time it was accompanied by a surge of comfort. No cares in the world. Time means nothing to this little thing. Lucky him.