After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…
It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers. We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work. Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with a self-imposed misogynistic names.
The rhetoric behind the click-bait title “I Went on a Date with Aziz Ansari. It Turned into the Worst Night of my Life” beacons a one-sidedness that is hard to ignore. It gets away with this one-sidedness by milking current trends: predominately the progressive #MeToo movement that began in October 2017 with the Harvey Weinstein scandals. #MeToo is progressive narrative of women speaking openly about sexual assault and mistreatment in the workplace–something they were particularly reticent to discuss amidst threats of unemployment, the ambiguity of sexual violence, and the unfortunate stigma that follows these things.
How language is manipulating our thoughts and why it is drastically important to teach.
The trouble with words is that, regardless of their size, whether they are salient or subtle, they matter. In their weightless form, they can move mountains and manipulate realities. They can inspire genocide and create peace. America’s national parks are built on their formless back. The Nazi Party was founded on their circulation (e.g., all race other than what Hitler deemed Arian were described as parasitic “bastard races” in schools). The anger, or hatred, or disdain you may feel toward our current political situation in the United States could be based on the graceful words from our president’s mouth, or his Twitter.
I am in love with your crevices and quirks. The man vehemently dancing with a sign on the side of the road. My waiter at the bar as he slides me a glass of wine and asks me how I am and listens to the rants of a stranger. The nuanced movements of starlings in mirmiration. A funny and nostalgic conversation with my brother. The smell of hay. The apparition of breath in cold. Dancing with friends to Christmas music in the back of a truck. The resonating sound as a piano key is struck.
The streets of London plead for attention; a necessary contrast from the ubiquitous gloomy atmosphere of a tired city. Art, music, musings, and performances line sidewalks and alleys. Voices and brassy guitar chords echo into the rhythm of the river. The beats of nightclubs vibrate walls and glass. Chatter and tourists and the scent of candied peanuts mixed with oil–a hint of America.
However, the hidden gems lay in London’s crevices. Between the booming parkour magic tricks and tourist traps. They are the unadorned modest moments. The kind that whisper a reminder: life can be simple and sweet and beautiful in small moments.
The smell of sweet maple syrup brushes my nostrils. A molasses-like sip of coffee touches my lips. I am staring out from my screened-in porch at a towering Live Oak who’s Spanish moss drapes like a spontaneous work of modern art.
In the background, Ray Charles is banging on the piano. Cardinals flirt with the introduction to spring.”Y’all” twangs off the tongues of people below me.
And I am home, mostly. Back in the south, near nature and the people I love.
Spot right next to my new apartment 🙂
A couple of years ago, my view couldn’t have been more different. And while I miss D.C. in many ways, there are things that validated the choices that led me here, as well as the choices I made for my future. But, there are also experiences and emotions that have validated my choice to live there.
When I lived in D.C., a step onto my balcony would amplify the sound of sirens. With a wipe of my finger, I could remove the soot that settled on my plants from the cars below. My view across the street was a busy hospital. My nostrils flared at the smell of car exhaust and rubber.
As a teacher, there are always little flashes of light.
Iridescent glimmers after long hours of digging. Dirt under your nails. Grit in your teeth. A rasp in your breath as you are suddenly able to inhale, with clarity in your lungs, a purpose. The scent of rain after a long drought… the kind that lingers in the air and forms steam off asphalt. That makes wilted plants perk up. It makes the waiting worth it.
The thought of hope made tangible is an addiction worth giving into.
And then there is, of course, the sudden fade to black and dust that I often lose myself in. Blinded by bureaucracy and unrelenting tasks. Suffocated by the lack of positivity. The pile of a to do list that hopelessly grows in the face of the illogical. When you are constantly assessing what you need to do, you begin to wonder if you will ever have time to be yourself again. How can you when your day often stretches beyond the uncomfortable limit of ten hours? The weight of students is often combined with the weight of leaving a personal life behind –writing, riding, gardening, adventuring, loved ones. They tug at each other. But you need both.
It all started with a brochure that my sister’s friend Judy gave me years ago: the Trans-Wales Trail. A horseback riding trek that would make any Tolkien fangirl weak at the knees. Open spaces. Dragon’s land. Riding a noble beast across a country. We discussed our ideas and goals of doing it one summer. Why would we not do it?
I was in high school with little money and poor decision-making skills. In order to not get my hopes up, my incredulous self set the brochure and idea aside, but I was forever unable to escape the dream of riding a horse through a limitless landscape.
Years later, here I am. Writing tid-bits on trains headed to my adventure and present reflections at a table in my sunroom. A strange form of time travel connecting past and present. I didn’t really explain what this adventure was all about in the first place, and it would be a lie to say it was largely born as a journey of self-exploration, (though it certainly became one). It was to fulfill that dream instilled within me by a brochure. To achieve what my imagination had been incessantly clawing at for years.
I’m struggling to keep my eyes open on my train back to London, in some state of limbo, trying to reflect on the last two weeks. Even after enduring the sleep of the dead the previous night, my body had to fight the fervent, eager, desire for more.