Making Room for Excitement
I’m not going to lie (which is one of my sister’s favorite phrases, one that makes me wonder if she’s lying every time she doesn’t precede a statement in that fashion), the last month or so have been rough. Frankly, the last year (maybe two) has been, but this last month in particular has been a bear. And not the cute cuddly kind or the hairy neighborly kind who does community theatre and owns a truck and helps you move your couch (though that kind of bear would be pretty awesome next week). It’s been busy with house-hunting, packing, communicating with students about picking up their work, working on new syllabi, having a big yard sale, and that’s not to mention my trip at the end of July to the Macondo Writers Workshop, which was AMAZING. Magnífico. Fantástica. A lot of other seemingly hyperbolic words that are, in this case, rather accurate. But that is for the next blog post (I really am working on that one. There’s just so much to say, so much cutting and reorganizing . . .). This blog though is about the amalgamation of sadness and excitement in the face of positive change.
With graduating I had a lot of fear and excitement which resulted in a strange kind of bipolar’s rapid cycling (see above picture). But this is different. Despite being very excited and grateful for the adventure my partner and I are about to embark on, while I carefully wrap our breakables in newsprint, I can’t help but feel the deep weight of once again leaving people who have come to feel like home. This will be the third big move to another state we’ve made in the last nine years, and though being such seasoned movers has made the logistics of it more manageable (at least those things that don’t require being dependent on other people *cough, uh, landlords*), the sadness seems not to get much better.
I can’t stop thinking about the twin pillars of gain and loss. There is no getting without losing and the further from California I get, the more acute that loss feels. In that very first move, I desperately wanted to leave the place of my birth; the site of so many mistakes and heartbreaks and failures and things that felt like restrictions, the deaths I had witnessed and those that I didn’t get to – I was ready. I was sad, but wanted it. The want grew like an orb of excitement in my stomach that expanded with every 100 miles east we drove, and through the tears it kept expanding, hot white light that shone like possibility out of the small cuts and scars of my hands – the promise that I would be able to make something of myself.
And what’s weird about this move is that I have. We have made something of ourselves. Both my partner and I have reached a level of education not even conceivable to the young versions of ourselves that still sit quietly at our cores totally stunned, gawking wide-eyed at what surrounds us. We definitely don’t have any more money (at this point at least, fingers crossed that will change!), but we have respect and validation from an institution which has not traditionally, historically been welcoming to people from our backgrounds. And even if I end up spending the rest of my working years digging ditches, or go back to cleaning toilets, I will always have this achievement. Of course, the likelihood of that happening is slim considering we are moving for academic jobs, but my point is that we’ve accomplished something amazing (the thing we actually set out to do!) and that I feel like sadness shouldn’t be the emotion at the forefront of my brain. But it is. I’m already missing my family and CA friends who I will be even farther away from. Already missing my grad school professors, colleagues, and friends (from both schools) who I’ve become so close with; people with whom we’ve had regular dinners, drinks, game nights, day trips to weird small towns. I will miss the neighborhood we’ve lived in that is in walking distance from a yoga studio, grocery store, and park. I know I will remain in touch with all these people, and will find a new park and a new yoga studio, etc. I guess maybe this post is really about deciding to allow myself to grieve during a transition that by all accounts I should be over the moon about. I think that maybe allowing the loss to wash over me now will leave space for that orb of excitement to work its way back into my gut. And maybe next week, traveling along the interstate, the sun high in the sky, with every 100 miles east we drive, it will become stronger.
P.S. Fairly accurate visual of what I've looked like crying this past week