Sunday, November 9, 2014

Social Events, Halloween, Teaching, and a Neighbor

It's the second week of November, and spring has arrived.

The warmer weather has made it easier to get out of the house and exercise, which has in turn helped me to feel more upbeat and social.  Or perhaps making social plans has made me feel more upbeat and helped me to enjoy the warmer weather.  In any case, it's a good feeling.

There have been a good amount of people that I hadn't seen in a while, and I had also met some interesting people over the past few months.  So I decided to have a party at my place.  I provided snacks, and everyone brought their drinks.  There ended up being about 13 of us inside my one bedroom apartment, but we all had a great time.  Looking back at the people that came made me realize how interesting of a group of friends that I have.  At the end of the night I was getting tired, and I think a few people picked up on it.  People left in small groups, and on their way out they took out the trash and empty bottles and beer cans.  It was a very pleasant surprise, and it made me realize how lucky I am to have met such good friends.

I also met some new friends that are fellow Settlers of Catan fans.  They had played it a few times before and were rusty on the rules, so the first game we played was like a refresher.  Seeing how competitive they got during the second game was really entertaining.  I'm glad I met them, and then I was invited to one of their birthday parties the following weekend.  There I met some more really interesting people as well as some fellow Magic players.

And then there was Halloween.  

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Halloween is like an unwritten competition to have an amazing costume.  Ever since I was a little kid I never felt like my costumes were good enough, and I remember being made fun of in high school for having a sucky costume.  Ever since then I've almost always decided to opt out of the competitive nature of the holiday and enjoy it how I want to celebrate it.

Here in Chile October 31st is a national holiday, and I really enjoyed having the day off.  I caught up with a friend over coffee, and then I filled my craving for American food by getting lunch at Johnny Rocket's.  While I don't enjoy dressing up in a costume, seeing the costumes of the waiters and waitresses there was cool.  They even danced to Michael Jackson's Thriller when I was there.

In other news, I'm famous!

Well, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration.  Why do I say that?

They opened the application process for people at my job to apply for English classes for next year, and they took pictures of me in class to use on the website.  It was pretty cool opening up the email and seeing my picture with some of my students.  

Last but not least, I had an unexpected encounter with one of my neighbors.  

In order to give you the proper background, we actually need to go back in them a little over 2 years ago.  I was teaching a class in my apartment, and my doorbell rang. It was one of my neighbors that was interested in English classes.  

After I finished the class I visited her.  I told her about my background, evaluated her level, and we agreed on a price for classes and schedule.  We confirmed the class, and despite her living two doors away she didn't show up to the first class.

When I contacted her about it, she explained that she was too busy for classes, and she refused to pay me.  

Needless to say, I wasn't happy.  In fact, I felt really angry every time I walked by her apartment to take out my trash or put away the recycling.  

So now we go back to a few weeks ago.  I woke up to a strange sound in the hallway.  it was as if an animal was chewing on a plastic bottle in the hallway, and it lasted for about 20 minutes.  Strange things had happened in my apartment building before, so I got dressed and opened up my front door cautiously.

What did I find?

One of my neighbors was using a plastic bottle that he had flattened out, and he was trying to use it to open the front door to his apartment.  His key wasn't working, and his family that lives on the other side of Santiago didn't pick up the phone so that he could get his spare key.  (It was 3 in the morning early on a Sunday).  

I recognized him as the husband of the woman who had never paid me for the classes.  We had seen each other coming and going and had been in the elevator a few times over the past few years, and once or twice I was him walking with his daughter who was a few years old at the time.  Despite him having nothing to do with his wife's behavior, each time I saw him I felt a surge of anger come up.  I simply masked it and smiled despite how I was feeling.

I asked him what happened, and he explained the situation to me.  I asked if he wanted me to help him call a locksmith or if he wanted to come in for something to eat or drink, and he told me about being able to get the key from his family in the morning.  I then asked if he wanted to crash on my couch for the night.  He seemed a bit hesitant to accept at first, but I insisted it wouldn't be a problem.  So inside he came, and to sleep he went.

We both woke up around 8 or so, and I offered him some breakfast.  He just wanted some water, and we chatted while I had a bowl of cereal.  I asked if his wife was away for the weekend since he wasn't able to get into the apartment, and he told me that they had separated.

At that time, it completely changed my perspective.  Imagining what he had gone through and not knowing what contact (if any) he had with his daughter really made me realize how inconsequential the lost English class was.  

I apologized and didn't bring up how I knew about his wife.  After we chatted a bit about our jobs, I told him that since we were both living on our own that perhaps we could have a meal or drinks together from time to time.  He seemed appreciative of the gesture, and after thanking me he went on his way to visit his family and get the spare key to his apartment.

I find myself continuing to branch out.  I'm connecting with people and developing more authentic friendships, and I'm learning to let go of the past and move on.  It's a good feeling, and I hope I can keep the momentum going through the rest of the year and beyond.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! These photographs are very good. I was also thinking to organize some corporate team building activities for my office staff. I wonder if Halloween party event would be a good option for that!! If you have other suggestions then please share!