The Calm That “I Am Not Alone” Provides

We were the only ones in the teacher’s lounge at 7:45am. She was making copies; I was making a test.

Cordial conversation: “How are you?” followed by common response, “I’m well. And you?”

I didn’t even break eye contact with the computer screen, determined to finish crafting this cumulative test before the imaginary sound of the first period bell.

Silence for a few minutes, broken only by the rhythmically, annoying hum from the copy machine.

A few other colleagues, leisurely strolled in and out of the room, preoccupied with their daily morning routines and tasks.

She started to head for the double doors, and stopped roughly five feet from me and asked, “How has everything been going?”

Not sure of the difference was between her first question and this one. Maybe it was voice, tinged with sincerity. Maybe it was that she stopped, hand on the door handle, eyes pointing at me, impatiently waiting for my attention. Whatever energy was in the question, I absorbed it and took it as an invitation to share some thoughts that have been clouding my mind:

  • This time of year always makes me antsy. Since college, I have not been in the same job or location for more than four years. And this year marks the completion of year four at this current job.
  • Do I want to stay in NY or leave?
  • I have an insatiable itch need for something new in my life, but do not want to and will not make any lateral career moves.
  • I would like to move out of my apartment but financially tied to a mortgage–she suggested I gut it and make renovations.
  • I would like to move to Harlem or Brooklyn to get a bigger apartment or a brownstone because I want to get married and have more children.
  • Feel weirdly loyal to the Bronx–do not want to “make it” and leave my community–maybe I’m fantasizing about the importance of staying in the Bronx as a way to motivate others and dispel this myth (reality?) of ‘successful’ flight.
  • Concerned about professional growth at current job, even though they have made it clear that I am valued here.
  • Unsure of continuing education; will my Ph.D or Ed.D truly benefit me? I guess the real question is where I am going and will that piece of paper help me get there?

After spewing my thoughts as if I was seated on a long leather couch in a Psychiatrist’s or Psychologist’s office (which one can prescribe those drugas?), she smiles and nods her head in agreement. She shares that she feels the same way, though she is currently looking for a new apartment with her live-in boyfriend; she confesses it is an attempt to add something new to her life and break up the building monotony. As if no one is in the room with her, she outwardly contemplates, eyes looking upward the arched ceiling, completing her Ph.D because she’s “not sure if it is worth it.” Honesty.

Her much shorter and concise rant made me smile not because she currently faces remarkably challenging life choices, but because I am not alone.


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