One Saturday last April it seemed as though a fissure in my psyche released, healed, and closed, and with it, the door to all I’d experienced in my three years of adventure. It was a triumph and loss all at once. As I page and edit through the beginning pages of the blog to start wrangling it into a book, I miss the person I was at the beginning of the story, aglow with adrenaline, defiance, and denial. As I face the story for what it really is, the end of a marriage, a labyrinth path to things generally being healthier but less exciting, I have to grieve for what it wasn’t, for what I may never have—a story of belonging.
After I walked away from that festival last spring in what an uncharitable commenter called a tantrum but what felt like both defeat and acceptance, I really did walk into a happier life, in almost all ways. It felt the way I imagine being newly sober might feel—missing the thrills but welcoming the lack of roller coasterness, the feeling of belonging to myself, to my own life.
I spent almost every weekend last summer at my aunt’s beach house, bonding with family, swimming with my cousins. I felt entitled to be with my own family in a way I never had before. I went to my sister’s for a no-reason visit, walked along with river with my niece and nephews. I sat in the yard at my mom’s dream country house and watched hummingbirds for hours.
I didn’t make it as a teacher, didn’t get to be the change I wished to see. Despite everything I’ve learned here, I never figured out how to not be blamed for every single thing—in the fall, a student pushed me into a door, and somehow I ended up being made to apologize to him. Another child tried to push a locker onto me, and I was told to “stop putting myself in harm’s way.” Eventually, I started having real panic attacks. On my second to last day, I went to the emergency room because my heart hurt. A doctor told me I could stop panicking, if I stopped going there, so I did.
I say this to say, so many times in the last few years I’ve jumped in with both feet, fallen in love with every single person and thing around me, then unequivocally rejected the whole thing, the social equivalent of a bad donor heart. I guess that’s kind of what I’ve been.
As I begin turning the blog into a book, the big emotional risk, the scary part, is not the scary stories that await me—I feel safe from all of those fears and panics, perspective and strength did come as I’d hoped, right on schedule. What’s hard to confront is the love, held in there like so many bookmarks. Though at time I saw those adventures as a transformative dream, it wasn’t, it was real love, even in the most baroquely fake situations. And with real love, real loss. I held every single character in my heart, just like I loved the teachers and students and entire causes I walked away from this winter.
In some ways, these two post-teaching months have been the happiest, but I’m restless not really knowing what I am, having these vast reserves of unexpressed something waiting in case true love or vocation miraculously come along. Though I’m by and large optimistic about what’s ahead, I get overwhelmed sometimes about the whole population of lost loves behind me, the series of identities I’ve slipped into and out of so quickly—the loss and loss and loss.
Today my beloved therapist, whom I’ve seen sporadically since we finished the project, had to cancel our appointment. She’s been doing that lately, switching my times around and so on, and today, I was done. She wasn’t one of my people anymore, somehow. I let her go and I felt something in my brain heave and swirl, maybe it was the real end of the story, maybe this is being free.
I’m new to the world again. I’m taking everything slow. I don’t know what I’m here for, except to write and eat brunch and pet the cats and take pictures of flowers. My type-A side wants a mission, my creative side wants to be a kite, seeing where things take me next. I honestly don’t know.