This Is Why I Will Strike

I just want to think about how hard-won this moment is. This day. This five of us skiing down a mountain together. This money we didn’t have before that we have now.

This fresh powder.

This view. Could you beat that view if you went anywhere else in the world? Well, could you?

I don’t want to think about the five years we, a family of five, lived on a frozen, constituents-unwilling-to-vote-on-a-mill-levy teacher’s salary of $48,000. The $10,000 out-of-pocket expenses we paid to give birth to our third child. The penny-pinching. The laying-out-$400-every-three-months to earn those goddamn fifteen credits so I could get a raise if I … changed school districts.

I don’t want to think about how Spain screwed me out of a decent salary and we came home afterward with $19,000 in debt, more than any we’ve had as a married couple.

I don’t want to think about the TWO 1998 cars we have outside our house right now, car-payment free.

I don’t want to think about a teacher’s strike. I don’t want to think about my refugees trekking across town on two buses and being huddled into the auditorium to wait, without teachers, the long seven hours until they trek back, because if they don’t wait, they might not have a meal that day.

About the hundreds of hours I, and every teacher I know, has put into grading, planning, meeting, educating (ourselves and them), in the ten months between August and June. Hundreds of hours outside our contract day listening to students tell us their traumas that are greater than any soul could bear, listening to our admin and school district rate us as failures when we wake before dawn and go home after dusk to bring our best selves into that classroom every day, listening to our coworkers decide between renting a slumlord shithole or buying a house an hour away…

Listening.

I don’t want to think about the thousands of union workers who died for this day. For this choice. For a society where corporate greed is not the only answer.

I just want to see my husband and my three girls gliding down this Colorado slope, this Colorado hope.

I want to ski. To smile. To rejoice.

I don’t want to go on strike.

But I will.

Just like I walked in and out of Manual High School in 1994 when my teachers asked me to support them.

Just like I lived on pittance pay for the early part of my children’s lives.

Just like every other union member everywhere who’s looking to find empathy in the eyes of the corporate monsters that rule our society.

I will strike.

And I will ski.

And we will win ourselves a bluebird day.