Sometimes your heart gets broken. You might think it’s chipped, or cracked when you’re first feeling the blunt force -the shock of the death of a relationship…
But after you let it all gestate for awhile…after valiant attempts at impregnating your life with meaning and significance (using activities, projects, and people as vehicles)…after days, weeks, and a few months or so… and even after you do begin feeling that your life is whole again, that you are you again, you finally
just come to accept that your heart was simply broken.
And it’s okay to surrender to that, to show compassion to yourself.
In retrospect, and when you finally have perspective again, you may find yourself feeling that your heart was really just chipped…that your heart can feel much deeper, that it’s capacity to actually be broken is terrifyingly greater than what you previously experienced.
There is something exciting about that.
I’ve realized that adopting a philosophy or a motto for the new year has made a resolution goal much easier to accomplish. Last year my resolution was to “do me.” Yup, it was that simple. But it was an umbrella term that encompassed so many things. Last year was all about doing whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted wherever I wanted. It wasn’t as indulgent as it sounds, but it’s been a fulfilling resolution that I didn’t give up on.
For 2013 my goal is to be the most interesting person I can be.
I picked this goal because this year I’ve finally begun to feel as though I’ve got a semi grasp on things, and even started to put a routine or two in place. Groceries on Sundays. West African dance followed by pole dancing on Wednesdays.
I want to pursue passions and interests that make me, me. I’ve let teaching define me -it’s basically a requirement of the job. (If you don’t make teaching and the kids your life, then you feel guilty, as though you’re not doing enough)
I’ve been reminded of all the random things I pursued when I was younger. This week I had the trembling fear that perhaps I was a more exciting and interesting individual in high school than I am now. I used to be mischievous, and interesting: sneaking out of the house late at night to go to the boat docks and talk until the sunrise. Pouring dishwashing liquid into the water fountain off of George St. in New Brunswick and splashing around in the bubbles. Playing on a basketball team (oh brother). Spontaneously taking the train to city or Princeton. Attending and performing at poetry slams. Watching foreign films. Reading existential and beatnik novels. Constantly creating: art projects with clothes, the wall, knitting, etc.
I suppose I had a lot of free time back then.
Of course the newness of everything when you’re young makes everything exciting. So maybe it’s newness that I’m searching for this year.
I like this resolution for many different reasons. It’s going to make me prioritize and value my time better. It will force me to have a life outside of teaching, which in turn will make me a more joyful teacher. It builds on last year’s resolution, and helps me define myself further. The thing I’ve been guilty of in relationships has been letting my personality get a little fuzzy around the edges, compromising, abandoning some of my interests in order to do something together as a couple.
While compromising can be a wonderful thing, it’s also a bit exhilarating to be able to say yes, to everything.
I plunged head first into dating for the first time when I was 24. Up until then I had been on some good first dates. In highschool I was taken to the Met, in college some live jazz or a Portuguese restaurant in NYC. All of those first dates led to very long and serious relationships. This past year has been the first in which I’ve experienced spending varying lengths of time getting to know men without the intention of hopping into a committed ‘ship.
It was one of the best things I could do for myself. I tried beef tongue for the first time, listened to the hopes and dreams of others, and learned how to enjoy my own company and my own stories whilst in the company of others.
I’ve been taught many things through wonderful and awkward and wonderfully awkward encounters with men over the past year. I don’t think I will ever not be nervous before a first date. As I’m walking into a restaurant or bar after an hour of primping and indecision, there is always that part of me that wants to turn back around before he has the chance to catch a glimpse and flag me down. There is always that moment during a really good date when I end up excusing myself to the go to the bathroom and do a little victory dance/text my friend. There is always that moment at the end of a good date where you hang on to every last moment gesture or phrase, which could result in a kiss, or the dreaded “I’ll text you sometime” line. There are also those moments on a bad date where you realize there is no chemistry whatsoever and you’re thinking through how to make the most of your time. It sounds selfish, but it’s true. Time is precious. Dating takes effort and commitment, and you have to intentionally and without regret carve out time that could be used on friends/work/misc.
A friend of mine, Ian, and I have very different styles when it comes to the logistics of a date. This summer I went for the safe route; always proposing my favorite taqueria & tequila bar that was conveniently located across the street from me. I felt more at ease and likely to open up to a person in an environment I knew so well.
Ian on the other hand ventures out to craft dates full of first time experiences. Horse back riding, art gallery shows, jazz at a speakeasy, etc. His philosophy when it comes to these epic dates stems from the gamble we take when agreeing to meet up with someone who we may be attracted to, but whom we don’t know too well. What if they’re as dumb as dirt? Boring? Disagreeable? Weird? Cold? When planning an adventurous date or a date in which he is pursuing an interest of his, at least he is guaranteed to enjoy himself, no matter how enjoyable the date herself is.
My take away from that conversation had less to do with planning grandiose dates and more to do with thinking about what it is that I liked, and wanted to do. I begrudgingly accept that Sex and the City quote about the best romance being the one that you can have with yourself. What was it that I was looking to get out of dating? That summer some of my favorite evenings involved going to the used bookstore next door and walking to the greek restaurant and eating on my balcony. By myself.
Through my adventures and misadventures this year I have a clearer vision of what it is that I am looking for in a other person, and what type of experience I want.
I went on my fourth/fifth date with the same guy last night. I had thought about my conversation with Ian, and suggested going to the zoo’s light show. The line was long and it was a chilly winter night. But holiday music played, there were lanterns strewn everywhere, dance shows, apple cider spiked with whiskey, and the experience of riding on a little train by ourselves through the zoo. I had to disagree with Ian just a little bit. I was glad to have waited and gotten to know this guy before sharing an experience like the zoo lights. Time is precious. I think it’s easy to have a great time with someone when there’s such a novelty to a date. But there was a moment while riding the carousel in which I looked at the date sitting right across from me and realized that this guy is no longer a stranger… we had sailed through the waters of first date status, and were potentially embarking on something new. The time I was spending with him wasn’t time that I was feeling bereft of -time that would have been put to better use on friends/work/misc. In fact, I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else at that moment. It is the the type of chemistry or magic or what have you in that moment that is what makes dating so special. And worth the gamble.
I have nothing original or fantastical to say about love, as Gabriel Garcia Marquez has already captured it all for me.
"To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell." — Love in the Time of Cholera
All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness you will feel immortal.
I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face like some rhino hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave, it is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds. Until it returns, as it does to all men. And then you must make really good love again. Think about it. —
Referenced by Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris
When I first read the book, I had it in my mind that when the time was right I too would run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A typical upbringing in the suburbs was full of the daily tedium you could expect. I would try to escape it during late summer nights in which I stayed up, without anyone knowing. I once snuck out of the house in the early hours of the morning before anyone woke up so I could witness the sunrise over the lake. I liked having such secrets, as they added complexity to the otherwise monotonous life of a teenager who had yet to discover driving, college, alcohol, etc.
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is one of my favorite books simply because it resonated with me. When you are too young to be able to control your circumstances, you desperately seek out adventure. Or maybe it’s not adventure you seek, but change. To be different.
I was always in love with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every time I went there…whether it was a class trip, a date, a family outing, to kill time with friends before dinner, etc., I had a routine. I would first walk up the grandiose stairs and go to the left. Walk through the photography wing, merely glancing, until we got to the European art. There I would pore through paintings, inspecting, reading any bits of information on the mounted cards. I would try to name all of the colors in the lively Impressionist paintings. I would think long and hard about the gazes on the faces of Rembrandt’s portraits.
There is something about going to a museum that makes me quiet. I do not wish to talk my way through, but rather absorb the experience. There is a quote from Mrs. Frankweiler that encapsulates what I mean.
"I think that you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything them. It’s hollow."
That is the philosophy I’m beginning this summer with. The past two years have been a whirlwind full of many experiences, regarding teaching, relationships, and my future. This summer I do not care to learn anything new. Rather, I want to reflect. I don’t want to walk around just making noise.
I don’t believe in anything happening at first sight. or first touch. or first conversation.
Then tonight happened.
A few years ago:
there is something to be said about spontaneously hanging out with a girl at a diner at 3 am…watching her as she eats a pancake sandwich [how attractive]…maintaining composure as the shady man in the next booth gropes his escort…and getting to know someone you just met that night.
there’s just something to be said about that.
I spent a majority of my time last year thinking about what it would be like to have my own classroom. A batch of kids that were all mine.
I spent countless hours prepping this classroom, scavenging through every goodwill’s book collection, finding all the caldecotts and amazing stories I had discovered and read previously. I bought fabric to cover the walls, and draped an old sari through the ceiling, to make the library look warm and inviting. I had several plants strewn through the room, and binders of resources I had collected over the year.
Little did I know then that I would end up re-arranging my room over 4 times that year. Little did I know how quickly unruly 6 year olds would end up ripping the wallpaper I so delicately stapled to the walls. Little did I know how sick of that beautiful space I would soon be, as I began to spend late nights there. I knew it would be difficult, but the profound way it would stretch and challenge me… the best urban residency programs in the country could not have prepared me for the journey that was to come.
This last year has been marked with many changes. I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 years. I moved from Boulder to Denver. I learned what it was like to be alone for the first time -living in a brand new city [and state for that matter], brand new job, brand new friends, brand new lovers and interests, etc. My students this year were the only piece of consistency in my life, which is funny considering it’s usually the other way around for students in urban education.
But now as I near the end of my first year of teaching…I’m so grateful to say that I’ve survived. Yes the year was the most trying experience of my life…and I constantly think about what I can do better for the kids…and I definitely have many regrets…but that doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s about savoring the victories of a disaster. I still have many students that are leaving without being on grade level…but I am so proud of the way that our classroom cultivated a love for reading. Even my naughtiest boys. The first graders I had this year can distinguish Caldecott books, sit still through a long but beautiful Patricia Polacco book, and are damn good at creating detailed illustrations that show craftsmanship. Maybe that’s not in the state standards, but I’ll be building each year as I grow.
And now I’m about to begin yet another journey! A new position as a 4th/5th grade Science and Social Studies position. A whole new dynamic/content matter to figure out. And in a few weeks I’ll be moving in with my best friend out here…who I wouldn’t have met if life didn’t steer the surprising course that it did last fall.
I’ve never been so excited for life to happen.