"So wait...they have hired you to teach a 4th course because you are so amazing, and yet you have no job security for the spring semester?"
A colleague of mine looked at me from across the top of her beer glass in amazement.
It was a reminder to me why I actually don't prefer to socialize much anymore.
But, whatever, right? Happy birthday to me!
All I could do was blink and smile and hold back the sermon from the pulpit I might otherwise be tempted to deliver on how I am just a brain for hire and, thus, perhaps not much more than goo on a stick.
I have been doing a lot of that lately: blinking and smiling, while working myself into early nights and earlier mornings, while making it all appear seamless. Currently, I am the only person on my academic floor to not be plagued with the seasonal, weather-change flu that everyone keeps passing around in communicable fashion. No. In fact, I do not have time to physically fall apart as they leaves fall in heaps to the ground...
And so, the other day at a lunch, another colleague remarked (in an Indian-from-actual-India-accent):
"I must tell you, Namaste, you always impress me. You always seem to be so calm and content with yourself. Your confidence really inspires me."
With this, I smiled. I quickly made a self depracating joke that I am a Scorpio, and warned her to not be so fooled by my calm and collected exterior...
I couldn't help but think about it all tonight. A couple of people whom I have met over the past 12 months decided to gather to help me celebrate my birthday. It was nice to see people and nice to sit and socialize.
And yet, as I sat there in my birthday girl chair, welcoming the cheer and warmth of all of the people I have grown to know and care for in the past year, I couldn't help but sense the simultaneity of my connection to each of them in combination with my growing isolation in light of the time and place that we are also inhabiting. For me, the wind is blowing. I'm loosening up the hatches rather than tying them down. Simply: I am ready to move on.
But still, I smiled, laughed and said a few witty things. I posed for pictures and gave a shoulder rub. And I listened with all of my heart when a woman told me to enjoy my "youth". Her advice to "breathe more" profoundly struck me before the vodka I was attempting to practically inhale in a mass quantity went fully to my feet. In fact, this small piece of advice sobered me to the core. I switched to water before excusing myself to the ladies room to take a stock of the woman looking back at me in the mirror.
Jesus H. on a pony-- what a year this has been...
A pretty young woman with smokey eyes and pale lips smiled back at me in the bathroom mirror. Her hair is now the length of something revolutionary with intent, but not by design: it is completely out of control and needs to be harnessed by the solitary gay boy in town who can't cut bangs to save his life, but always has something funny to say. Alas, the young woman in the mirror-- she's been faking too many smiles in recent months. She's been grinning-and-bearing far more than her soul would prefer. She has lost track of what she looks like in the outward sense of things and has gone on this rather inward, Rip-Van-Winkle journey within. Perhaps she woke up a little tonight. Perhaps 31 years old is a good time to wake up and remember to breathe.
She takes a deep breath while washing her hands...
And remembers that she was the only person in her group to be carded for ordering an alcoholic drink. Does this mean that time is frozen, or that not drinking, smoking and sun-exposing in her 20s really has paid off??
...and begins to ponder that it might be best to stop writing about herself in the third person and get some rest.
The job with no job security will greet her again in the morning...
And for now, this is where she/I/we need to be. (Simply because everything--life, love and even job contracts expire when it is time to move on.)