In a way, this made up for the previous four years. I try to not count my first year teaching, but if we start the chronology my second year, when I actually began teaching Bible, this was my first class. Not technically since 1st and 2nd period were 11th graders. But, they were freshmen and I had them before and after lunch. And they were the worst.
They weren’t all bad. But they were a nightmare for an introvert that just wanted everyone to sit quietly while he talked about the Bible. Also, the introvert was homeschooled, grew up basically an only child, and was generally calm, cool, and collected throughout much of his own high school experience (minus church trips).
They, on the other hand, wanted to almost literally bounce off the walls, which was a bad idea since the back wall was technically just a partition. Midway through the school year we’d move to our own building. It was on a property that had ironically been my wife’s elementary school, where she was taught by my current principal. Because of that, they were Facebook friends and to make a long story short, that was how I ended up getting hired at the school in the first place. This all happened a couple of months after relocating from Dallas, but technically before I graduated. I started out teaching science, but then the Bible teacher left and we all breathed a sigh of relief as I took up his mantle instead.
Freshmen start out with Old Testament, before moving to New Testament the sophomore year, then Theology (with a capital T), before finishing up with Apologetics/Ethics. I taught the first three for my first two years as a Bible teacher, before only teaching OT and Theology the following year. This current year I replaced the out-going senior Bible teacher. Though I have never taught all four years of Bible simultaneously, I did teach this current senior class all four years of their time in high school. And, as a bonus, I actually had every kid in the high school in one class or another this past year. Neither feat will likely happen again.
This particular class and I have always had a kind of love/hate relationship. Hate is probably a strong word, but I guess so is love if you really mean it. I like them all individually, but they have an oft putting corporate character. That is, unless you’re on a road trip in California for a week. Then they’re a blast.
Given my history with them, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into the trip. I was definitely stoked about getting to basically go to California for a week for free, crazy kids or not. I asked about Ali going, and it turned out she could, but we’d have to buy her ticket on our own. Or rather, we’d have to use our Southwest points to get a ticket for $11. Checkmate atheists.
April is Ali’s birthday month and her twin sister was coming in town and I had two concerts to go to, but hey let’s go to California for a week if we can, ok? And so we did. On the 7th, I finished up a semi-normal day of classes (except for the afternoon ones which were deserted because those are the senior Bible classes), went home, changed, and then a student’s mom picked us up and got us to the airport in the nick of time. Actually, several people were late and we were all getting there super early so it didn’t really matter.
My pit stains were out of control before we even got in line for security so I knew it was going to be a great night. I had a bag of protein powder in my backpack so obviously I got searched. We then rode the train to our terminal so we could buy some over-priced Asian fusion before making the final trek to our gate.
We boarded around 6:30 pm. Or at least, boarding group A started at 6:30. We were all C except for Ali, since her ticket had been purchased separately. She was able to snag a window seat and saved it for me (best wife ever). The rest of the unfortunate high school souls on this first flight had to pick which middle seat they wanted. Now they know the true value of a loving spouse.
We flew to Denver and landed around 9:00 pm local time. Which is to say 11:00 pm in East Coast mind time. This worked out well though because pretty much all the shops were closed for the night so the kids couldn’t buy any pot. Unfortunately it meant I couldn’t buy that Denver Broncos Super Bowl champion shirt either. But, as Ali always says, “You don’t need any more t-shirts.” Little does she know at this point that I won’t rest until I’ve bought about 10 on this trip. The last of which I technically ordered on Amazon somewhere airborne over Texas and it was delivered before I unpacked my suitcase so it technically counts. But she was right. I didn’t need a single one.
Disappointed, I headed back to the gate, had a brief conversation with a local pothead, who must have noticed my bloodshot eyes and thought he’d found a kindred spirit. I informed him of my chaperone status on a senior class trip, and he said the token “woah dude” a few times. Thankfully, this conversation lasted about the same time a vape cloud does, and boarding started. We would land around midnight local time. We all disembarked in a daze (not a haze) and made our way through an empty airport to the rental car counter. Seven mini-vans later we on the way 5 minutes south to our Holiday Inn Express. It was somewhere between 1:30-2:00 when I finally went to bed, which is to say it was when I would normally be getting up on a Friday morning. Thus began an uneasy relationship with Pacific Time that would last about 10 days.