Experts warn bloggers and speakers: “Don’t give out too many links to external web pages or books. It drives traffic away from you.” True, certainly, but I can’t resist: Frequently, I’m struck by something I read or hear and can’t help but snag the inspiration and explain its thing-ness when I write.
Like this one: Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New Yorkis a compilation of essays about… well, loving and leaving New York City. It’s fabulous. Reading it, I dove into lives of other women who were startlingly like me with their dreams and stubborn stupid mistakes, and wrangling with questions of identity and dreams.
They are not like me, though, because they love (or loved) New York City and felt, at some point along the way, that the city held the secret to success and happiness.
I’ve only been to New York City two times. Both trips are blurred and shadowy, for very different reasons, and so, in my mind, the city is unreachable in a formidable, sweet, untouchable way. A whole universe I’ll never know. A friendly taunt, too: Maybe if you were a real writer. Or, C’Mon, girl. You’d flounder and flop and fail, if you lived there. And, Perhaps if one of those visits had turned out a little differently, you’d still be there, shopping in bodegas and waiting for the A Train.
But I’ve settled as a midwestern girl, an Ohioan, in the middlest part of the country in the middlest part of life. “Your story’s not seldom told, sweetheart.” So says Elisa Albert in my favorite essay in the book, titled, “Currency.”
My story is certainly not seldom told.
I harbor a little secret fantasy that I’ll have another chapter—one that involves a completely different way of being—a small farm, maybe, or a walk-up apartment in a trendy urban area, or a house with an ocean view.
Many of us do, I think: We hold a door slightly open in case there’s another place who wants us to come there and fall in love with it.
But not now. Instead, here I am, on one of the last weekends in August—on my patio, looking out at summery, sexy, sultry Ohio in August. Everything is deeply green. Sun and leafy shadows and blue skies. One of those trademark storms quickly sneaks up and explodes everything for a while. We scurry to put away the things that are strewn and scattered— flip-flops, my books, half-drunk lemonade, pool towels that have been drying in the sun.
Albert says, “There’s something terrifically sad about growing up, which is why sometimes people refuse to do it.” Growing up is what has me here. At home. Some days—especially now, the school year has started and the days at home will become more precious—I don’t want to leave. Not for anything. For me, that is the most grown up I’ve ever been. And there’s nothing sad about it.
Ten days ago, the doors opened up for another school year. It has been a full, whirly-twirly time; I can’t even begin to process all the problems that needed solved and all the decisions that were made. It happened, though, and happened well. I’m always struck by how school becomes its own kind of home—for us, for the students, and for their parents. Being a teacher or principal, and finding the place we most love when we go do the thing we do—that’s a special kind of lucky. A special kind of home.