Don’t get me wrong, I am so, so happy here. Truly. Last year I was really happy in spite of the drama and sadness and frustration that was going on in my life, and that was the happiest I had felt in absolute years, like a decade or so. But now I’m happy, and it’s not really in spite of anything. Yes, I miss my family and friends and Tucson, but being away isn’t as hard as I thought. I’ve never gone more than six weeks without seeing my family before, and now I’m just about there, and it doesn’t feel as painful as it did before. The fact that I can balance the idea of still loving where and who I come from with being incredibly happy in my new state of life makes me know I am in the right place.
And it is such a good place to be. Cute, cozy apartment with few problems. Absolutely amazing dual degree program that is constantly challenging me, giving me new things to discover, and validating my choices in life. Volunteering for an organization in a capacity that feels genuinely like a contribution to tikkun olam and that is also both personally and professionally enriching. Making new friends, acquaintances, and connections at a rate that I can handle without feeling too overwhelmed and like I need to withdraw. More or less managing my money. Enjoying a season I’ve never seen before. Finding a little time to sing.
And I’m being given so much support and so many opportunities. Next week I go to my first professional conference, when I’m not even really a paraprofessional in the library field yet, and I have a mentor for the conference, a roommate, other connections, and a cousin, all to meet while I’m there. I booked a monthlong winter vacation back in Tucson to see my family again. March, no matter what financial maneuvers it takes, I am going to the AWP conference, which will also function as a reunion with some of the people who have been most meaningful, formative, and inspirational to me over nearly the last decade. Today I had a meeting with an adviser and got the encouragement and guidance I needed to start my research now, not this summer, and I also have a clearer idea of my future course schedules and a fairly stable graduation date. I have stacks and shelves and Kindle files of things to read, for school, for fun, and for research. I am curbing my binge eating. I am connecting with people and movements that I am passionate about.
There is absolutely nothing to complain about. After spending the last few years doing little but that, I am now being given just about everything I ever wanted, and certainly at the very least what I need. I am growing into my adult self and accepting some difficult things about myself with more grace than I expected. I think now I am moving towards being more conscientious and productive with my free time, and next semester, I am determined to have a job, or internship, or both.
But even with all these opportunities, all these conferences and vacations and reunions and possible future opportunities, I have one itch that I can’t scratch, and instead of going away like an ignored itch usually does, it’s making me want to crawl out of my skin.
I. Need. To. Travel. I want to get out of the country, or at least out of daily, busy life, so bad it’s unbelievable. I am beyond happy, but I also know that part of my identity and sanity depends on these amazing opportunities I’ve given myself, also over the last four years, to grow and learn and actually relax (something I’m never very good at) in a new environment. I thought Boston would be that, but Boston and Simmons are so obviously where I am meant to be that they almost don’t feel new, because I belong here. I’m happy to belong, and I want to continue to do so, but I also need to get out a little bit, and soon. I haven’t used my passport for a year! I want a reason to go to Paris, or Cuba, or Ireland, or Brazil. My adviser told me today she’s looking for someone to go to Australia for a year and then come back to Simmons to teach it; send me, send me! I just need to do my traveling thing. I need to walk somewhere where there’s cobblestone. It’s amazing how that’s the first image that pops into my head whenever I think about traveling, though it’s always the cobblestone from a different city. I need to go write in a hostel somewhere, sit on a bench in a park where people speak a language I only half understand, eat food I’ve never heard of, open my wallet and be confused about the colors and symbols on the cash inside. But I have no access to any of the time or money for that right now, and I shouldn’t want it, because I’m more than fine here.
But it’s a bug that’s hard to shake. So until money falls from the sky, I’ll try to get even more immersed in the marvelous things I’m doing here. I don’t think I’ll be ready for a career when I graduate, though. I’m definitely going to need more scholarship time, more research time, more travel time. Definitely now want to aim for a Fulbright or something similar.