Saturday, February 28, 2009

So much for enjoying being single!

Even when I was in high school, there were a couple of times when I'd walk into the cafeteria and just sit down, not trying to locate friends to sit with, but forcing myself to be brave, to sit alone, to not worry about what others were thinking. Again, in Upward Bound, I'd do the same. Countless times friends would tell me to come join them, or ask me what was up. Sometimes I'd join them, other times, I'd just hang out by myself.

By the time I went to college at TU, I was immune to feelings of loneliness when I ate alone. Sometimes it really WAS because I didn't see anyone I knew or felt comfortable approaching, and other times it was because I wanted to read a book and didn't want people bothering me, and other times it was just because.

Part of me thought that made me strong. Independent. Unique. I wasn't part of the girl troupe who had to go to the restroom with someone else.

Over the years I've done many things alone. I've always convinced myself that it was because I preferred it that way. Now, at 33 years of age, I'm not sure I can tell the difference- do I enjoy being alone because it's what I'm used to, or is it something that was part of me from the beginning?

What I do know, is just last weekend, I was celebrating going to the theatre on my own (read the "Joseph" post), and after the events of this week, I'm just not sure anymore.

When Grandma passed away I was teaching at Turner and my mom called and told me while I was at work. Of course they were wonderful about allowing me to leave immediately, but the drive home was full of tears. It would have been nice to have someone then.

At her funeral, I watched as Angela's husband, Jimmy, took Grandpa to the restroom, helping him in such a tender way, you would have thought Jimmy was a nurse, or that he was a "blood" relative. Angela is so blessed to have a husband like that. Of course, I remember Shawn's husband (now ex, thank God) showed up to the funeral about 15 minutes after it began, and because we'd been seated already, he didn't even sit beside her. Polar opposites... instead of wishing I had someone like Jimmy, I congratulated myself on not having someone like Phil. Looking on the bright side of things or simply jaded?

A couple of years ago a former student from Turner, Allen Davis, was killed in a motorcycle accident. That was hard. Once more the drive home was full of tears. It would have been nice to have someone then.

And now I've lost a current student, one who I thought the world of. This week has been hard. The most nightmarish part was walking into the school Wednesday morning, after finding out Lynn had shot himself the night before. Mr. Parrish told us that, despite our own grief, that we, the staff, were to be the rock the students would have to lean on. How? My own grief was so deep. I kept thinking of all the wonderful memories I had of Lynn: him being the only boy on my academic team the previous year and us always talking of being supermodels; of his "Darth Vader" voice he was going to use for the play this spring, as a favor to me; of the text message he sent me one weekend when he'd finished reading a book and had hated the way it ended so badly that he'd punched it; of all the different books we'd talked about, especially the Midnighter series, and the way he'd still remember random thirteen letter words; of assigning him 'Cassius' in Julius Caesar because it was the longest part and I knew not only would he read it well, but his deep voice would do the part justice; of his playing the role of Obama in a school-wide debate the week before elections, and though he was in McCain territory, he had been masterful...

And I remember things I can't talk about too, because it would violate a students' privacy, but things that I want to talk about... I remember how it felt when I took roll on Wednesday, and there his name was...

I've just had an unemotional day, and yet here I am with tears streaming down my face again. If you're not a teacher, you probably won't understand this, but Lynn was MY kid. He was a student that I connected with and adored. I love all my students, but there are some who you just get and who you know that ten years after they've graduated that you won't forget them.

Tuesday, after I heard the terrible news, I wanted to be alone, because that's just part of me, I guess. But as I laid in bed trying to sleep that night, I wanted nothing more than to be held by someone who loved me, who got me, who cared about my pain.

I've recently become a Sex in the City addict, which happened after I saw the movie. During the night, Tuesday, when I couldn't sleep, I watched episode after epidsode, and finally the movie. In the movie, Carrie gets a personal assistant- Louise from St. Louis, and she admits going to New York to find love. She even carried a key chain that said Love. She said, that despite her heart being broken, she was still going to look fo love.

Not me. I had love once and didn't think I was ever going to get over it. Over him. I still wonder, sometimes, if I'm over him, though I know it's probably just a girl thing to not be able to let him go. Funny, though, how I've been able to let go of those who've come after him...

So, as I've dealt with the debilitating pain of Lynn's death, I've longed for love to wrap me up and take care of me for once. Do I have what it takes to be like Louise from St. Louis and put myself out there again? I don't know, I don't know... Students ask me all the time if I get scared, living by myself. I don't. They think I'm brave because I'm not scared of being by myself... when really, it's the other way around: I'm scared of being hurt again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joseph's Dreamcoat

Saturday night I went and watched a friend perform in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I'd never watched the musical before, and though I did enjoy it, it didn't begin to live up to my expectations, which were based on watching Oklahoma! two summers ago. Perhaps it was because I didn't know the songs and couldn't sing along. After all, when I watched Mama Mia this summer, my sisters all complained about how I sang during the entire production (so sue me!), and I loved that show!

At any rate, I attended the show by myself, and I can't believe how much I enjoyed being my own date! I almost didn't go, because every single person I asked to go with me already had plans, or had something come up, but I remembered that I'm independent and CAN stand on my own two feet, so I sucked it up, dressed like a super model (of course!) and hit the road.

Joseph was forced into being alone when he was taken from his homeland, sold into slavery, and later imprisoned. He just made the best of the bad situations, no matter where he was. He formed solid relationships with the people around him and learned to rely on God... and learned to trust himself and his own instincts.

So... Joseph and I don't have a lot in common, but we have this: this weekend I saw a new play, an old friend (though he disappeared before we got to visit- what happened to you, B?), and renewed a relationship that I don't want to ever take for granted- the relationship I have with me!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

As a little girl I thought I had the most perfect parents in the world. As I've gotten older, I've realized that in some ways I was mostly right, but that they aren't- and never were-perfect.

Last night at the Goddard Center, I watched a theatrical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and as I stood in line to pick up my ticket, I noticed how many elderly couples were there in front of me. As most women can attest, getting a man to go to the theater is something only besotted males will do, because after you've been together a while they revert back to their honest selves, and resist anything unrelated to sports. But what impressed me was that most of the people there were not young couples, but older, tried and true couples, who'd spent a lifetime together.

I began to wonder- did they go to the theater when they were young and he was besotted, or did this love for the performing arts exist over the long years? I know that the only thing my parents have ever done together on a regular basis is to attend church, and though I don't want to share too much of their personal lives, I do know that things aren't always rosy between them. Surely the elderly couples I witnessed last night have had their ups and downs too, right? But they've somehow managed to hang in there when so many other couples aren't able.

Couples have to have interests that grow with their relationships, don't they? Something new that comes along and sparks the light in their eyes. How can you tell before you get married whether or not you'll have the kind of relationship that lasts? I didn't know that I'd suddenly, in my 30s, decide to pursue my master's degree, nor did I know that I would ever consider teaching on the collegiate level. I've loved teaching forever, even during the rough first three years, and now here I am, thinking about moving from the public school area to teach at the college level? I never knew I'd change like that.

I've grown and changed in other ways over the years. It's taken me changing jobs three different times to realize that I've got wanderlust. I don't like staying in one place for too long because I always wonder what else is out there. How could a relationship survive that, especially if I had been with a person who didn't feel the same? And how could either of us know we felt that way, if it's taken me this long to recognize the pattern in myself?

I've been a Christian since I was twelve, and there have been some rock-solid times in my relationship with Christ, but there have also been many times in between where I questioned everything I ever knew about God and the Bible. How do relationships survive the faith roller coster, especially if that's what they were initially based upon?

I say all that to reiterate my earlier question- how does a couple know that they will grow and change together in a compatible manner? So many couples think because they're perfect for a few months that they'll be perfect for a lifetime, but I've seen the opposite happen time and again. Others outside the relationship may be able to recognize their incompatibility, but so few are ever honest about it, and in my own experience, when you are honest to the person "in love," you wind up harming your relationship with your friend, she ignores your advice, and you have to watch her go through some very hurtful life events before your prophecy comes true. And of course at that point she's bitter and hurt that you were right all along...

I read an article entitled "Swan Song: Scientists Claim That True Love Exists," in which one out of every ten mature couples showed a "mate for life" mentality similar to that of swans and foxes. One out of ten?! Every girl I know who wants to get married wants to be the ONE. In fact, in the movie, He's Just Not That Into You, it talked about being the exception to the rule. Every girl wants to be the exception, because the rule is that NINE out of ten couples don't get "happily ever after," if you can believe the Swan article. You don't even have to believe the article to recognize that couples all around you are, if not falling apart, unhappy.

I don't want that. I'd rather continue being happy by myself than miserable with the wrong person. It's not always easy. Valentine's day was a nightmare, thanks to the double date I got stuck on so that my sis wouldn't feel awkward on the "fix up," so naturally I was the one who got to feel awkward. But that was one day out of numerous others. I went to the theatre by myself last night. So what? I enjoyed it, and hey, it gave me something to write about! =)

I don't have a lot of options out there right now when it comes to dating, but I'd like to think that if I did, I wouldn't settle just to be in a relationship. I'm willing to wait around for the one man who makes us the exception, if that's what I have to do. Why shouldn't I? I'm fabulous all. by. my. self!

Little Girls and Their Daddys

Last weekend all of my sisters came to church on Sunday so that we could be with Mom, whose birthday had been the previous week. Sitting in church, I looked over to see Destiny with her arm linked in Dad's. It struck me at that moment that her relationship with him is so different from mine.

I've always loved Daddy, but we never really had a close relationship. Destiny, though, is completely different. She's never felt awkward about climbing in his lap (I'd kill the poor man!) or giving him hugs and kisses. Shouldn't it be that way? But that's definitely not how I feel, or how I remember ever feeling as a young girl.

Families show affection from day one, and I guess that determines how it will be from then on out. I know that Destiny is probably more comfortable with most males than she is with females, whereas I'm the complete opposite. With girlfriends I'm outgoing and fun and laugh and just have a great time. With most males, it's not the same at all. That's not to say that there's not the exception to the rule now and then, but overall, the stiff, uncomfortable relationship I have with Dad is similar to the one I foster with most other males.

I think it was Freud who first said that boys want to grow up and marry someone like their mothers and that girls want to grow up and marry someone like their fathers. It makes sense in some situations, I suppose. I definitely look for traits similar to the ones I've always respected in my dad- honest, intelligent, hard-working, fun-loving, faithful, a Christian... But I'm looking for other traits too- affectionate, enjoys the arts, sociable, laid-back...

I love my dad sooo much... I still call him Daddy most of the time. I think he's handsome, with the prettiest blue eyes in the universe. He's so talented with woodworking, and he's a very steadfast person in both his beliefs and his actions. I don't question his love for me either, not one tiny little bit. But I'm 33 years old and still long for the kind of relationship with him that my baby sister has- one where I can sit beside him in church and put my arm through his and not even give it a second thought.