I hate using the word “suck” – and sadly, that was the only word I could think of last night on the car ride home after a deep and psychoanalytical conversation with our dear friend. Not exactly the type of light dinner chat typical of a meal between friends, but he asked a question that quite literally solved the mountains of doubt, grief, anxiety, and absolute chaos that has plagued me for the last 11 months.
If you recall, I blamed my unhappiness on so many things. Scott handled the transition like a pro, and then was left to carry my pathetic self through it, too. I blamed our sleepy little town for not being Old Town Alexandria, not having the National Mall and my monuments just a few minutes away. I blamed stores for closing early, tractors for driving too slowly, bugs on the farm for landing in and tainting my perfect cup of coffee.
I blamed the cold, drafty farmhouse. The slivers I got from unfinished wood floors, the lack of natural light due to the hundred-year-old trees shading the bedrooms. I blamed the roof for leaking, the fireplace for smoking, and the fact that the nearest Wegmans was 40 minutes away.
For the first 6 months in Medina, I felt like I left my heart in DC, sitting happily on Lincoln’s steps under the stars. I was lonely, insecure, unsatisfied. The opportunity to write full-time here on the blog, to work on improving my photography while renovating this old house had once been a pipe dream. And here it was, actualized. Scott worked at home, rooms away, and I could see him whenever I wanted. I played outside on beautiful days, practiced calligraphy on rainy days, and spent lots of time toiling away hours on the Internet hunting for the inspiration that I failed to find in my every day life.
And then in January – something changed. An opportunity to get back in the classroom as a long term sub at my Alma Mater came to me, and though I was sure that teaching would only get in the way again of this new pipe dream/alternative creative lifestyle, I went anyway. The money would help with buying the house, I said.
After only 1 day with the students, I realized that it wasn’t Medina. In fact, my heart had not been left on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; it was quite literally still in my classroom at T.C. Williams High School with my rambunctious group of 1st period Seniors, waiting to tackle another exhausting and rewarding day in education.
Our friend asked last night, at first appalled that I was choosing to head back to the classroom and give up on a life of creative adventures – the writing, photographing, exploring, renovating kind of life I had imagined was waiting for me back home – and all I could say in response was, “I’m a teacher.”
So there it is. Almost a year of using Medina as a scapegoat for my misery, the reason leaving our life in DC was so damn hard was not moving at all. It was the horrible decision to think that I served a better purpose when not met with 100 beautiful souls every single day.
I love this drafty farmhouse, the slow tractors, the unfinished floors that beckon new use. I adore that this “sleepy” little town has a bustling energy that I have not seen as strong in 33 years of my life, that new shops and restaurants are opening all the time, and that the love of Medina is so entrenched in the hearts of those who live here. I love that DC is always just a car ride away, but that my world has opened up to the opportunity to explore the nooks and crannies of WNY. But these things make sense to me when I teach, and I value them even more knowing that after a passionate day of intellectual conversation and adoring my students, I can walk through the farmhouse door and know that this is home.