[For today’s Daily Post prompt, Good Tidings, the challenge is to describe a meeting between the same person ten years apart, with the older self sharing the most challenging, most rewarding, and most fun things the younger has to look forward to.]
“It’s someplace in southern Ohio.” The young woman’s voice recited a town name Dan didn’t recognize. “They say it’s almost two hours from Cincinnati. Talked to one guy who’s from there, said there’s some ‘biggish’ towns that are closer, but I didn’t recognize any of the names he mentioned.”
“I see.” Dan sighed, collected his thoughts before responding further. He couldn’t help feeling, again, that this person seemed like decade-younger doppelganger of himself. Life-long city resident; education degree from a small liberal arts college (she even fenced, for crying out loud); five years of teaching in urban school systems; professional ambition still strong, but partially mitigated with frustration and stress. And an offer nearly identical to the one he’d received from Bark Bay a decade ago, a teaching position with a good possibility of tenure, in a community that supported education.
The details were different, but the situations were effectively the same: a good opportunity, in the middle of nowhere.
“Go for it.” The words seemed to erupt reflexively from his mouth, were said with more conviction than he actually felt. “It’s not going to be easy — ” the memory of fresh savory bagels came to his mind — “there’s a lot of things you take for granted now that just won’t be there. The slowness will drive you crazy at times, it’ll feel like you’re in a checkout line with a trainee cashier and a confused shopper.”
“But there’s a tradeoff to that slower pace of life. Parents, they’ll be more likely to spend time with their kids, your students. And school politics, that’ll still be there, but it’s on a smaller scale, you can get your arms around it.”
“And the kids?” The voice sounded doubtful. “They any different?”
“Don’t believe what you hear. Small-town kids aren’t any smarter, or better behaved, or ambitious than the ones you work with now. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy — ” the part of him that hadn’t liked his tone earlier let down its guard — “but you’ll have a chance to teach in ways you can’t now.”