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Editor’s Corner: Springtime musings
Andrea Gutierrez new

I haven’t been feeling like my usual productive self lately, which I like to blame on the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. There has to be something fishy in the solar system that’s affecting my mood–I’ll have to ask NASA to help me investigate what’s wrong, once they’re finished passing out special binoculars for the eclipse so idiots don’t burn their corneas.

The thing is, I’m finding it harder to focus on office work when the weather is so nice. I’ve always been a spring and summer enthusiast, despite my pollen allergies and childhood beef with ice cream trucks (Why did they never stop at my neighborhood? Totally not fair!) Maybe I should set up my laptop at J.F. Gregory Park for the time being–or at least until it starts raining.

On top of that, my mom, a custodian with Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, is on her spring break this week. It feels like a role reversal of us when I was little, where my mom would go off to work while I stayed home during my school’s spring break–which never fell on the same week as my mom’s break since I went to private school.

I have fond memories of spring break as a latchkey kid, eating snacks from the cupboard while watching daytime television and Disney movies, hiding behind the couch on the rare occasion someone would knock on the door (It would nearly always be some salesperson dropping off flyers for home internet deals or lawn care services).

But sure enough, a part of me felt inadequate when I went back to school and all my classmates would regale me with fun stories of what they did during spring break, stuff like going to Six Flags or traveling to the Grand Canyon or jetting off to some spring stay in the French Alps that’s bigger than my cul-de-sac. In those moments, I felt very small and insignificant, thinking to myself that no TV show marathon I ever did at home could compare to the cool stuff my peers did on school breaks with their families.

Envy isn’t the right word; I never begrudged my friends for having more than me, but it definitely felt awkward explaining to them why I didn’t live in the same neighborhoods as they did, or why my parents didn’t have time to volunteer at school events like all of the other stay-at-home moms and dads showing up in their freshly polished Chevy Tahoes in tandem.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this–it’s weird how childhood insecurities follow you around, like chewing gum stubbornly sticking to the sole of your shoe. Did my friends and classmates care whether or not I had a summer home in Prague? Probably not, but I still wanted to keep up with the Joneses anyway, so I pretended to know what they were talking about in the hallways when they ardently gossiped about scuba diving trips and tanning salons, two topics of discussion I have absolutely no background in.

If I had gone to public school, I most likely wouldn’t have run into these kinds of social dilemmas–a point I sullenly made to my mom once when I was around fourteen or so, during my freshman year.

Suffice to say, she was not impressed with my whining. A working-class immigrant woman like my mother saw private education as a worthwhile investment in my future, not something to be wantonly thrown away because her socially awkward daughter is bad at making friends.

But she wasn’t wholly unsympathetic either. Growing up in Barranquilla, she also was the odd one out in her friend group: her closest school friends all lived in nice homes in the center of town, with parents who went to university and had proper careers in fields like medicine and teaching. Meanwhile, my mom traveled on two different buses to get to school, and was the first person in her family to even get a bachiller (a high school diploma; received after she finished two years of non-compulsory schooling to graduate at 18).

“Fake it until you make it” was the general gist of her speech to me, given with a customary warm hug and a plate of fried tostones for us to share. Easy for her to say, I thought. My mom and I are complete opposites...or are we? Being a teenager is hard anywhere, in any time. Looking back, maybe I didn’t give my mom enough credit back then for all the stuff she went through with her family, and for all the things she hasn’t even told me about yet.

As I write this, I hear my mom on the phone talking excitedly with her niece who is graduating university this spring, and I smile.

Andrea Gutierrez is the editor of the Bryan County News.

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