Letting Go vs. Losing Your Grip

Field Day

Field Day
I am writing this from the first day of actual summer vacation, sitting on my front porch drinking my first cup of coffee at a time when usually I am wrapping up my second class of the day (and probably trying to run down the hall for my second cup of coffee.) It’s the first time in years that I have not had any deadlines looming – lesson plans or parent phone calls or grad homework – and I feel profoundly unsettled.

I say unsettled because this feels strange, and there are a lot of big changes in motion that are making me feel unhinged, and I say profoundly to mean very (because I am a lover of language and I sometimes use big words) but also to mean profound: something deep and spiritual and necessary. Being this unsettled is Good For Me.

Last week I said goodbye to my coworkers and my students, many of whom I have worked with for three years. I have been gearing up for this goodbye for weeks (showing my students pictures of the Mediterranean coast and making pen-pal promises) but on our last day of school the school fired quite a few people unexpectedly, including the principal. This made everyones’ goodbyes more painful and more final. These three years have not been easy, but this was more than my first full-time job – it was a job that I put 150% of my time, efforts, and energy into.

On a more insignificantly catastrophic level, this past weekend I decided to take the bus – partially because I hate driving (my 80 mile daily commute is one thing I will absolutely not miss about teaching) but partially because I am weaning myself off the use of my car. Some frustrating bus schedules and a broken phone made me start to panic a little – which is ridiculous. (Especially to anyone who knew me circa a few years ago, when I never had a working car or working phone.) I think the tinge of catastrophe came from the realization that in a few months I am going to be moving to a new town in a new country, and that I will have to get a new phone, new apartment, new friends, new coworkers, new daily routines. This is incredibly exciting but it will mean a dramatic departure from my comfort zone.

Comfort zones are funny things. For me my comfort zone is less a specific set of places or routines and more my ability to control my environment. I can be disorganized and cluttered but my main way to cope with feeling overwhelmed is to make lists, plan, and organize everything in my mental and physical environment. The year that is coming is going to take away a lot of the control that I have, and that is going to be Profoundly Unsettling – and that is why I am looking forward to it.

Speaking of adventure:

Night Market

In the midst of last weekend’s frustration, I stopped worrying about control. I got into a car with my friend to drive to an undisclosed location in a shady part of Detroit. We found our way to an enclosed industrial lot, where strangers creaked open box trucks full of lights, poetry, cupcakes, and performance art. It was an exciting adventure, but more than that it was a good reminder of the worthwhile things that happen outside of the warm safe circle of the Known.

I’m scared but I’m ready to pack my life up into a few bags, leave almost everything and everyone behind, and get on a plane.

(Okay, this isn’t quite true. I am waiting on a background check and my visa application, and I still need to buy plane tickets. But by the time that falls into place, I will be ready. Promise.)

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4 Responses to Letting Go vs. Losing Your Grip

  1. Chelsea says:

    oh wow, that parking lot art thing looks incredible.

    i love this post. one of your best.

  2. You and I, me dear, are so much alike when we are in organize-chaotic-life mode. In reality, those lists just make us FEEL a sense of control- in reality, it’s never in our control! I love what you are doing within the chaos!

  3. saracita says:

    Chelsea: You are my inspiration to write more often!
    Mama: I know this means I am like you – even more profoundly unsettling! 😉

  4. Dude, loved this post.
    You are wild. Ish.
    Can’t wait to see what you become in espana.

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