October 6, 2013

Maine Observer: First free autumn is a teacher’s time to learn.

By Vickie Sullivan

Don’t call it a midlife crisis: This short time away from school is a much needed period of renewal.


Vickie Sullivan of South Portland usually teaches English at Southern Maine Community College (but not this fall!).

I have not had an autumn to myself since I was 4. So I have taken a leave of absence from teaching this semester to recharge and to enjoy the season, and more importantly, life.

After a wonderful summer filled with lots of fun, beach time, friends and relatives, I wanted to extend my summer. It was not an impulse decision; in fact, the plan was put into effect early in the summer.

There were things on my summer list that I hadn’t accomplished. The other day I finally did drive to Saco to have my ice cream sundae at Martel’s, but I never got to Crescent Beach or to the Eastern Prom.

The Sunday before classes would have started for me I went on an excursion with members of the Italian Heritage Center to the Feast of St. Anthony in the North End of Boston. My friend Gloria and I spent the day celebrating, walking, sightseeing, but mostly eating.

A couple of my friends think I’ve taken a leave of my senses. Within two weeks at the end of the summer I bought a Fiat convertible off the lot without having driven it. I also bought a smartphone that I can barely navigate, but being a talker, I love the unlimited minutes. I wonder if I’m having an extended midlife crisis, but my friend Amy kindly says instead it is a “midlife renewal.”

I’ve become reacquainted with a man I was friends with over 30 years ago. Seeing him again reminds me how quickly the years have gone, so I have decided I must live in the moment, something a sentimental fool like me doesn’t do easily.

I try to say the words “this is for now,” not thinking of the future. This fall. This lavender sunset. The blue heron on Back Cove. The family house.

Recently, I chose a beautiful late summer day to visit with my cousin Elmer and his wife, Gladys, in York at their summer home. As we toured around, I enjoyed the day, not wondering about next year.

I plan to get to know my parents’ friends the Davises better and visit Harrison when it’s quieter. I want to visit my Aunt Theresa in Rumford and take pictures of her “Papa’s Shed.”

I am going to announce boys’ soccer at Cheverus for the entire season without having to worry about grading papers.

I plan to see every full moon over the ocean from the Southern Maine Community College campus.

I can watch Season One of “Nashville” to my heart’s content. I can stay up to watch each entire segment of “Dancing With the Stars.”

I can decorate for and celebrate Halloween at my leisure. I can shop for the holidays without rushing.

In October I will reach Social Security age, a thought which both horrifies and astounds me. I have so much left to do, I think. But for this fall in my mother’s words, “I’ll kick up my heels,” the future put aside.

— Special to the Telegram.

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