JUNE, probably three days into a new job
I listen to Passenger sing “Don’t cry for the lost, smile for the living”. I try to work on my shiny new dream job, where everyone is being beyond lovely in the coolest office I have seen (not that I have seen those many…) and I am utterly unhappy. Endlessly sad.
You may be wondering why. I just redid my house (well, as much as I would like to be a DIYourselver, I had to pay someone to do it, but I still endured the dust and the mess while living in the house, and that should count), the weather is perfect, I have friends who would bury bodies with me and I got a job in the company of my childhood dreams (and if you were a nerd like me, maybe of your dreams too).
Why am I upset then? Because living with an ocean between your legs is fucking hard. And yes, that was on purpose, ok? Because knowing that I am here when I should be there sucks, because I am making a lot of people I love unhappy too, because part of why I stand living here is because I get to spend the summer there, because those seven weeks of virtual separation are what have kept my marriage together for all these years, because I need to be able to go back to being a little girl for a few weeks while I still have a daddy who can hold my hand, because I am fucking scared that my kids will forget their roots for a one summer gap. Because I robbed them of a summer of dandelions, endless hours at the pool, blackberries, stray kittens and harvesting machines, to stuck them in summer camps or with babysitters so I can get a taste of the American Dream 2.0.
And I know exactly what advice I would give to someone in my situation. Family first, always. But I still cannot bring myself to do the same and give up on my chance to have the job I wanted at 23 for a summer of misperceived idyllic memories.
And that makes me a moron.
But as of now, I am unable to work, stuck, paralyzed, unable to be neither bold nor productive, just being miserable. And I could blame PMS, hormones, the weather, politics, but I know that I am a coward, and that I got blinded by a shiny cover with beautiful content that may not have been meant for me. This whole process felt surreal all along, and this is why, because I shouldn’t have gotten it. It was not my place, nor my time. And I still took it.
And by now, a couple of months later, I am happy I did. It was a hard summer on everyone, that’s for sure. But I also got to meet wonderful people, learn tons of things and have a real try at summer Chicago, because, let’s be honest, that summer I stayed to have a July baby shouldn’t count. For the first time in my life I am making something. Although still not as satisfactory as wheelthrowing clay with your bare hands, I am a tiny part of a machine that makes books, and that is pretty cool in this bookworm’s view. I am working on something that one day will be held by someone else. It may seem like a weird goal, but after years wondering if my work as an instructor had any meaning, and whether it was productive, that is more than enough.
I will always feel a sense of geographical inadequacy, of uneasiness about where I am at, as most time I feel like I am in the wrong place, never where I should be. With my parents aging thousands of miles away, while my kids grow up here, uprooted despite the fact that they were born in Chicago, the times in which I am sure that I am exactly where I should be are decreasing rapidly. So, when I am able to identify one of those moments, what one of my favorite writers calls “blah moments” in one of his novels, I make sure to make the best of it, as those are my rare moments of peace.
The dissynchrony of living in two countries is numbing at times, heartbreaking at others, especially when you have to spend long periods of time without setting foot on the place you still call home. The place you will always call home.
And while I listen to a song by another Britishman about what really matters, I will go and search for plane tickets, and enjoy the next few weeks, in which I will be sure that I am going where I should be. I will have to enjoy the excitement about the next trip home, about seeing my folks, about touching the leaves of the trees of my little village.
About having both legs on the right side of the ocean, if even for a tiny bit.
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