So. How were the last three, or maybe five or six–or possibly like ten–years for you?
Mine were OK, I guess. Meaning they were kind of a foggy blur of loss and pandemic and political theater and scary weather patterns. I was grateful that I like my house and I found therapy in gardening, pets, and generally staying alive in loose connection with friends.
Lately though I’ve been having some kind of reawakening. Maybe it’s odd that I hadn’t realized that I needed that, but I guess all the stress fog had begun to feel normal. But all of a sudden, I’m a little different, a little more interested in things, a little brighter…and I might even bother wearing a little mascara or wearing uncomfortable shoes.
I got pretty used to not seeing anyone or doing anything during the pandemic. Of course there was the beginning, during which I started to think maybe I’d be OK just growing my own food in a sack-like garment and with uncut hair–but this rapidly turned into awful isolation and the house being way too small for all of the misery and angst contained within it. But also I had decided on a midlife crisis career change just before all this happened. In 2019, partly inspired by grief, partly by burnout, and partly by an odd feeling I was supposed to, I decided to apply for a teaching credential program. This required a lot of extra hours and tests and such, which took up most of my free time in winter and spring. Then I began to set aside my editing business, and I started the program while teaching high school full-time. Teaching over Zoom was awful–I basically ran my classes like therapy programs for the struggling teens involved–but the godsend was that I was able to teach from home while my kids were home in online school and while I was getting my credential. And because of the pandemic we didn’t have much else going on–no sports, no activities, no volunteer gigs. So all of that was horrifyingly challenging but surprisingly doable–thanks, covid? We had to be isolated anyway, so at least I slapped most of the isolation into one year.
Now here I am, teaching high school instead of running my own business. And it’s great! I love it! I love teenagers, and I am enjoying having coworkers too. And sick leave. And time off with my kids instead of working through holidays. It’s been odd to lose the identity I had for more than fifteen years, but this has been a pretty good time to fire up a new identity, creeping into my forties and emerging from a global crisis.
And things are just plain getting better. My kids have reblossomed after that awful time. They have friends! They go to the mall! And I have begun to blossom as well.
I stopped exercising during the pandemic, and was having a hard time resuming thanks to my tiring new job. I’d been serious about fitness and the outdoors through my whole life, and totally laying that aside wasn’t helping my mental health or my overall health. But thankfully a little inspiration has arrive. In 2019, I was training for a three-day fundraiser cycling challenge. And after a series of setbacks, I ultimately pulled a muscle right before the ride. It felt like too much to try to do again anytime soon. But this winter I had been thinking that maybe I’d try the ride (Pedal to Resettle) again someday. And then it popped up online, and it turns out they’ve scaled it back to a one-day ride where you can choose your distance. I’m gonna do it. And it is so great to have a goal other than pure survival. I’ve been out, riding on the river with friends, and–well, it turns out I’m a little rusty but not that bad! Some of these have been hard days but still life-giving and fun.
Perhaps most telling, I’m beginning to write again. I have been writing in dribs and drabs the last six months or so, mostly with my students and often poetry, but writing used to be a meaningful part of my life and I’m happy to be heading that direction again. When I look back at when I am more or less prolific I can see it is difficult to write through hardships, and then a little hard to get back on the horse after things like a traumatic birth, divorce, a death, or suddenly every bizarro global crisis coinciding, but writing is…me.