I just went back to work. I work in a school and we have to return after our lovely long holidays. This is not unusual and is my annual event, which I have alluded to before in The Fear and A World of Pure Imagination. I found it tough returning after maternity leave, as is natural. I always quite enjoy the beginning of the year’s creative process too. This term was different again however. This term my school has amalgamated with another school and we were moving site (from our school, all boys) to the other school in the process (all girls) merging to form a co-educational school. We were leaving our home ground and moving into their stomping ground as it were. There has been much debate, talk, tension, excitement, anger and joy over the whole arrangement. It has been challenging, as they say, and there has been two years of this Great Unknown.
Today we finally reached that unknown. We fell down the rabbit hole. We crossed the paths from the old to the new. It felt so different to what I had imagined as these events so often are.
Today was meetings all day, information and dates and details. An amazing amount done and to take in. Our new management were most certainly informing us and today was the proof of a phenomenonal amount of groundwork having been undertaken.
For the staff, this is a quirky day. Many of us didn’t know where the toilets were. The exits. The cups. The spoons.
I can liken the feeling to being at a wedding that may not have come about in the most conventional sense.An amalgamation. A joining. A merger. One spoonful of the wrong ingredient and you could have a powerful explosion…
Here is a list of reasons how an enforced amalgamation of two schools is like a shotgun wedding.
- Final Farewells. We had spent so much time saying out farewells to the past. This movement from the old life to a new was much like the tranformation of single to married life, as one of my colleagues actually talked about. I was emotional leaving the old building, old home if you will, but I had said my goodbyes and was ready for this new life, much like a bride on a wedding day.
We were fed, as all good weddings will do. Basic physiological needs were met by management with good old pastries for teabreak and a curry for lunch. Keep people fed, warm and safe and they will be able to fix the rest themselves. I fell on that 11 am Danish like a famished wedding guest to the obligatory bread rolls.
We were unused to the surroundings. At least, our side was. Again like the groom’s family, coming a journey, we were the ones at a loss. Where is this kept? I don’t know that way. How does this work? The bride’s family has the knowledge. The knowledge is power, or so it feels. By the end of the wedding, we will get our bearings. Just in time to Rock the Boat.
- Apparel. We were all in our best school gear after a long holiday in casuals and sportswear. Much like a wedding, there was pulling at collars and awkwardness in heels. Nails were gelled. Lipstick applied. Not a sign of a yoga pant. Shuffling about in M&S best but dying to get home and out on the pj’s.
- Outward Expressions. There was a lot of jollity and smiles, not overally false ‘face might crack with the strain of faking it’ ones I would say, but nervous and maybe even shy. There was a definite sense of ‘on our best behaviours’ about the whole thing. No one was going to be the one to cause any hassle. At least not until the toasts (to continue an analagy).
- Acceptance. There was an immense sense of relief almost. I can imagine there being a type of relief at a wedding that people have pressurised. Much like a forced wedding, we did not choose this path. We were brought together by an external factor and had no choice. Making the best of things is our only choice. Today is the first day I felt an acceptance in the room. We were coming to that stage of the grieving process. We were ready to move on and work with the consequences. The jigsaws might actually be completed.
- Speeches. The day was definitely like listening to wedding speeches, all day. Speeches that are a little bit awkward at as an ex may be mentioned unwittingly or a reference to the scandal that got us here in the first place causes raised eyebrows. A ‘don’t mention the war’ mentality. A lot was said, but those things needed to be said. This was the time I really felt like I was at a tense wedding, only I desperately needed the glass of wine a wedding would bring and not just my water bottle.
- Hope. I left feeling for hopeful for the future of the school and I think a lot of people leave a wedding feeling the same optimism for a newly married couple, whatever brought the marriage together.
Quite an unusual first day back to work! Hope our hangover stays away and we make it happily to the first anniversary where we will celebrate with a lot of paperwork. Anniversary one is paper, right? Let us deal with day one of the marriage first. A new beginning.
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