Friday, September 16, 2011

The Summer That Changed Everything

I realize I haven't been around here since March. I wanted to lay low while I was being considered for a job that would've brought with it a fairly high profile, regionally speaking. But I DIDN'T get the job (thank god, in hindsight). And yet I still didn't write. Certainly not for lack of thinking. I've thought several novel's worth of emotional turmoil, plot twists, dramatic tension, exhausting dialogue, and overused tropes. I've thought it because I've lived it.

Back in February NW Arkansas was encrusted in a foothigh late snow, Egypt was struggling for freedom, and D. and I were on a perilous relationship tightrope. We bickered, slipped, lost footing, and to keep from tumbling we grabbed at each other, nearly pulling the other down in the process. The Banksy documentary played an unwitting role in one of the loudest, dumbest, ugliest arguments we'd ever had. But NO! I said - I know I've had a rotten attitude at times. I know I've brought it home. I know I shouldn't do that. I know my energy spreads to others. I don't want it to be this way. So I vowed to improve - anything in my power. I vowed to be more conscious. I vowed to bring more loving into our relationship.

I asked for nothing in return. My secret hope was that I would be right - that love begets love, that he'd be inspired to also make changes and be conscious. I secretly hoped that my deep love for him would transcend the bullshit we'd found ourselves waylaid in. And that we could just make it through the fucking summer!

Then something happened in early June that really tested the boundaries of my trust - my trust in him, trust in our methods for figuring things out. No, not THAT bad thing, but heartbreaking nonetheless. And I knew the tsunami of summer programs were gathering speed and power....just around the corner.

By the time I was in the middle of what would turn out to be the busiest, craziest, most professionally demanding summer ever, I had already started to understand that we....just didn't have what it takes to face all our challenges, use them to grow stronger, and, above all, love each other unconditionally.

There was also SO MUCH ELSE going on underneath, in between, and over to the side of this intentionally vague description. Things like (justified) teenage rage, tornado hitting too close to home, terminal cancer, inexplicable body ailments, fender benders, floods, bill collectors, lost dogs, the hottest summer on record, people we love in Syria and Libya, and a garden I refused to let die.

July 17 D. moved out, taking both dogs, Rocket the cat, and nearly all the furniture.

I had no choice but to call upon my friends, who should all be knighted in my imaginary empire. Within two days I had couches and chairs and a dining room table again. Whew.

Meanwhile the tsunami of the summer programs I oversee hit hard. 24 undergrads from Iraq (proud, whipsmart, demanding, high energy, awesome), 24 English teachers from Mexico & Vietnam (easy-going, rewarding, smart, fulfilling), 19 undergraduate women from Afghanistan (inspiring, strong, primitive, exhausting), 15 graduate students from nine countries (passionate, emotional, driven, needy), and finally 22 pre-service English teachers from Turkey (energetic, entitled, draining, young).

I put the last program on a plane last Friday. By Saturday, my shoulders ached constantly. I got a massage but it seemed to hurt more than ever. Monday the pain was so acute I stopped in at an urgent care clinic. The next day I got acupuncture. Nothing was alleviating the pain from the entire Summer From Hell. All signs point to Bulging Disc. It's now 2:43am on a Thursday night. Tomorrow will be yet another long day that I'm ill-prepared for. Not enough host families. I don't know when I'll ever truly be well-rested or satisfied with my personal life. But I'll keep trying! For all you readers who thought we had what it takes to make it work - I thought so too. I really did.


Carrie said...

Alannah--your feelings are well written. I think you captured what a lot of people feel during'after breakups. Gosh, I didn't know all the insides--animals and furniture--of your house were taken. Sheesh. But I know you have great friends up NW and am happy for you. All the Carrs want you to come down for a weekend just as soon as you can. Love you.

michelle said...

Wow, A. Some summer. I hope the fall is cool, calm, and... collected? Sending you love from Mass.

Carolyn said...

Ooph, that's a lot! But like Michelle, I hope the Autumn brings a time of calm and collectedness. Thinking of you and hoping for lots and ots of wonderful things!