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One year ago this week I moved out of my apartment into a whole lotta world.

In taking Stock of the last Three Hundred Sixty-Five days, I have counted:

250 Students on Program
50 Colleagues Worked with
15 Modes of Transportation Utilized
7 New Countries Explored
5 Types of Toilets Negotiated
4 Babies Born to Friends or Family
2 Romances Attempted

and my favorite stat of all: over 65 beds slept in.

(That’s averaging a new bed every five days for my maths impaired amigos.)

As I lay in (my current, though changing tomorrow) bed at night counting up the places I’ve slept, in each pillow case is wrapped a place and time. Every foreign bed frame creek and groan tells the story of the day that got me there and the people I’d wake to in the morning.

And thats the beauty of the list, less the numbers and numerics, more the bounty of the bonds created.

Tomorrow marks a new phase of this 15 month trip; a full year has passed, this semester is over and personal travel begins. New stage, new goals, new people, a new list and – lest we forget – a new bed.

Buenos Noches. Lak u noc. Śubha rātri, Bonne Nuit. Iyi geceler.

Good Night.

-Mels

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I have been afraid of this entry.

I have been scared to write the realities and compelled towards full disclosure. I have been avoiding you, blog, in favor of students and adventure and other things I could write about then what’s really on my mind.

The fact is…I’m Single. I have been since the last Big Thing ended in 2007.  Single, free, available, actively dating, sometimes in multiples…but capital S Single – solo, self sufficient, solid, satisfied, stupid, scared, strong, stubborn, and single – for a very long time. In many ways I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it differently.  In many ways all I want is a partner, a dog, a fire escape garden and a sense of “home”. Stability in the form of a place and a person.  Someone that is safe, stable, supportive and always there.

I fear that over time I’ve forgotten.  That I misunderstand enough, I’ve become stubborn enough, I am compelled to wander enough that I won’t find someone willing to do this with me. Someone willing to put up with me going, who is willing to wait, or willing to come, or who makes me want to finely hold still.  I want to hold still to have community, to have home mean something greater than 2 weeks, to have the possibility of love.  I worry that I’ve forgotten how to compromise, how to commit, how to communicate, how to WORK ON IT, with one person.  To choose the challenges over the freedom.

I have met amazing men, have allowed myself confusion and connection – and then I’m gone.  It’s always been “hey, your wonderful, I’m here for six weeks”.  I’m scared I wont know or wont be willing to do what it takes.  Relationships are work; its easier to work with my kids than work on it.

I love my job but  it’s clear path of work or bust:

Flash back, 2007:

Mr. Marry:  “You chose the idea of this job and students over the reality of us”.

Boy on a Boat: “You couldn’t do your job if you were really with someone, could you?”

2008:

Mr. Coffee: “I’m not ready to do long distance”

“I think I love you but this is who I am”

“I’m not there”

ouch.

2009:

Radio Silence

2010:

Mr. So Close to Amazing “A few years from now we could be great”

Mr. World Bank. (Really, what was I thinking)

2011:

Mr. “If  You Were Around We Might Have a Chance.”

There was a moment in a tent in 2008.  Probably my biggest moment of total singledom breakdown. In the arms of one Ms. “Operations Manager-in-the-Form-of-a-Good-Friend”, who whisked me away from a group of Iraqi students when she realized I was only  barely holding my shit together under those really big sunglasses. She let me sit in her arms under the veil of a camping canvass – and cry –  extensively, loudly, full-on-body-wrenching-my-abs-hurt-for-days-Ugly Face Cry.  For a long time.  It was pathetic and healing and one of the few times I let myself address the feelings of total singleness and the non-reality of self-sufficiency.

All I could think was “When I have given all the care I can, when I am empty and sad and have nothing left to give, when I have cared for them for months on end, when I am emotionally tapped…how will I take care of myself.” All I could say was “But who will take care of me?”

It’s pathetic and it feels selfish and stupid and crazy, and still so real.  I had given it all.  An Olympic Sprinter who collapses at the finish line exasperated.  I had given  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G I knew myself to be to students and staff.  I would feel like a bad director if I hadn’t.

My job, then and now, is to care.  I am a professional mama, a nurturer, a sister, a counselor, a safety net, a healer, a make-everything-ok-er, a source of comfort.  I love providing that. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, it makes me feel my most human and complete.

Now 27, the age my mother was married, I’m choosing a job and an incredible opportunity over the idea of maybe, possibly, someday, re-figuring out how to meet someone or have a relationship. It keeps feeling like a choice – love or work, the possibility of love, or the reality of these amazing jobs.  I remind myself that holding still holds no promise of love.

My father in his carefully doled out but infinitely accurate wisdom has said “do what makes you happy and you’ll find someone whose happiness fits with yours.”  I have to take solace in this idea.  It’s the star I’m stringing my swing on.

For now I focus on my students; focus on this experience I have been granted, and I am thankful for what is in front of me: an incredibly understanding community of family and friends, women who make me proud to be a woman in every way, travel experiences that will turn my current understandings upside down, the opportunity to take college classes and not have assignments, and the ability to eat humble pie as I transfer from the person-who-knows-how as Assistant Director to the person-who-has-so-much-to-learn as the youngest and least traveled of a faculty team.

This semester feels like its going to be amazing.  I feel lucky, truly lucky and blessed and fortunate to be with these students and faculty on this trip.

But

Universe,
It would be nice to feel love again, maybe some day sooner rather than later, OK?

Cheers,

Melanie

I made a decision….and it’s leading to a lot of action.

That decision means I will be on the road from June 2010  until sometime in May 2011, likely longer.

It  is going to be incredible and full of adventure and learning like I can’t even begin to imagine right now.  I’m going to two new states and at least four new countries.  I’ll travel for work: teaching and living with high school or college students for more than nine months of the year.  I’ll have incredible colleagues and be graced with work that is deeply and profoundly meaningful.

and.

Holy CRAP this next year intimidates me.  It’s logistically complicated, emotionally complex and it all seems very BIG right now.  So I’m breaking it into pieces that feel real, tangible.  Manageable.  As I pick up each piece and turn it over I look for ways to make my life easier.  Some of tasks to make my life easier are:

  • Seeing all the doctors I need to see before I go (getting cavities filled next Wednesday!)
  • Buying new, rugged, efficient, awesome luggage (and harnessing Maggie’s “packing light” series.
  • Organizing what I have and giving away/recycling/donating/throwing away anything that does not fit into the “will I use it in the next year/will I want it a year from now” category
  • Updating my email-able calendar (so everyone who needs to know can know where I am with the click of a button)
  • Creating a vision board/book/blog page/something I can take with me of pictures, quotes etc. that keep me grounded and inspired for the times I feel I have given all my pieces away and have nothing to go on.*
  • Signing up for many airline rewards programs
  • Making lots and lots and lots of lists (because the more scared I am the more list I make).
  • The occasional bout of complete and total denial.

Last but not least I am creating this blog.  I have always wanted to make a blog but never felt I had a reason.  Now I do.  This blog will be the proverbial moss to my rolling stone.

 

Lets get mossy.

 

     

*I wish upon everyone a job that requires all of who you are.  I do not take this gift for granted.

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