Love’s Influence by Tori Alvarez


Chapter 1

The running jokes about Mondays—theMonday blues, manic Mondays, dreading Mondays—are spot-on the last month of school. Somehow everything becomes dire for the students and the administration, so you never know what you will be walking into these mornings. Today was exactly one of those days, with students wanting to turn in essays that were due on Friday pleading with me, not wanting to fail the semester.

They had one month. One month to get these done and turned in, and they want to cry about it now? This assignment isn’t even their final draft! Ugh! After a couple of students are done arguing their cases, I’m left quickly gobbling down my lunch, hoping I don’t choke on a piece of bread from the sandwich I threw together this morning. I glance at the countdown I have tucked under my desk calendar.

Twenty more days with students, then freedom awaits. Eight glorious weeks student free. I spent this weekend planning a few day trips around Texas to explore for my blog and Instagram feed. I’ve worked hard building my reputation as the go-to travel influencer for the local twenty-/thirty-something crowd.

I’ve always been honest in my reviews, making sure people know what they are going to walk in to before they arrive. An Instagram following was easy to build, but converting them to blog readers so I can give them the real lowdown on places has taken a couple of years. This spring I won an award in the local newspaper for “Best Travel & Food Blogger.”

My next class will be arriving soon as the bell rings announcing the end of lunch. I throw my lunch in the trash, take a couple of gulps of water, and glance at my personal emails before returning to teacher-mode. A new email awaits me from a vineyard north of here. I scan the email, smiling when I get to this sentence: We would like to extend an invitation for a two-night stay at our new, luxurious resort. There would be no cost to you if you choose to feature us in your Instagram feed.

A short free vacation! What more can a teacher ask for? If I’m honest, I did begin my social feed to try and get free anything—meals, appetizers, drinks, etc… It was my way to try and supplement the measly teacher salary. If you would like to extend your stay, a discounted rate can be used for up to 3 days past your formal invitation.

The sound of chairs scraping the floor brings my gaze away from my phone to the students who just entered. Three more classes for the day. Then a trip to plan!

Sitting in my apartment,my calendar open in front of me, I look at the days the email specifies. Daré alla Lucé Vineyard gave specific dates for the stay, with no option to change. I lucked out because it is the Sunday after my teaching contract ends for the school year. I can think of no better way than to begin my summer than in a vineyard. There is also no reason for me not to extend my stay, so I send an email accepting the invitation and requesting the couple of additional days.

It doesn’t get more picturesque than a week in a vineyard in a small town. This will be a great way to begin my Texas summer travel series. This inexpensive getaway may give me great material to showcase on the blog throughout the summer. Not only will I write up a piece on the hotel, but I can find other great spots to showcase as well.

Maybe one of my pieces will be picked up by a magazine or larger blog. The more time I spend blogging about my travels and experiences, the more I wish this could be my full-time job. All this wishing may just be end-of-the-school-year blues.