At The Crossroads of Life in North Country

I’ve been gone from the blogosphere for exactly 6 months and 6 days. I’ve done little writing in the time since I wrote A Pronouncement. It’s not that I haven’t thought of writing; I have. When my writer friends were making NY resolutions about writing more, I was praying the winter wouldn’t be so bad this year.

I haven’t felt motivated to do much outside of surviving, and I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel much guilt about not writing. I’ve given up the guilt that comes with not being a disciplined writer, but most of all I’ve given up the part of me that beats on myself. Sadly, the latter also pretty much decimated my motivation. I’m in the camp of those who believe a little beating up on self equals productivity. I’ve not had much of that in the past 6 months. Nevertheless, I’ve been busy living and trying to survive in a part of the country where my kind is not meant to survive. Life has not been spectacular but it has been good to me for the majority of the time.

Most of the 6 months has been spent incubating my relationship. Working out the kinks and accepting that we will be forever working out these kinks as part of being together and not being perfect. Accepting that one argument does not a break-up bring. There were ups and downs as we went into the winter months, but my doctor recommended a new medication and it has done wonders for me the last three months. We also had a relatively mild winter so I’m sure that contributed greatly to my good health. My therapist was applauding me when I last spoke to her: saying I had come through the winter without half as many struggles as last winter presented. I have however packed on the pounds and can’t seem to get rid of them. Of course as an African woman, I’ve always been taught to admire and long for cushion. I’m now round in all the places that matter, but now I’m trying to get rid of the stubborn belly fat. Anyhoo, I am very happy with the effect for the most part.

The other reason I have made it through the winter is that I have had a partner by my side. I never thought I’d get to the point where coming home to someone would appeal to me, but alas I am there. We have been each other’s support as we have fought the racism, sexism and bigotry that has been thrown at us from every corner. It’s been amazing to know that when 5:30 rolls around I will get in my car, embark on the short 7-minute drive and have someone waiting for me at the door on the days when Beloved doesn’t teach. Most times Beloved has been dealing with her own stuff but more often than not, she stops whatever she’s doing to meet me at the door and either jumps up and down like a kid waiting to be picked up or gives me the biggest smile. Of course there are days when this doesn’t happen because of a petty fight or disagreement in the morning. Neither of us likes to play pretend. This makes it a bit tough sometimes for moving on beyond particulary difficult fights, but that is a story for another day. In any case, I believe strongly that we have both survived this winter and the harshness of the community here because there’s always been someone to come home to. We were each there to bear witness to the other’s pain and joy and that has made all the difference.

I am staring at the end of my work contract here in the North Country: July. That’s a mere 4 months away. I am also staring at the upcoming deadline we set for ourselves last July: May (end of academic year). That’s 2 months away. We decided we’d try out this experiment of living together and consciously choosing to work on our kinks, evaluating at half points: after Winter break and at the end of the Spring semester. After winter break, I was ready to move back in with my mother because this place was so bad. I’m glad I stuck it out and have continued to build my relationship.

Where are we going from here is the question on our minds daily now. Beloved still has a couple years remaining before Tenure but I doubt I can live up here much longer. As much as I enjoy being a couple and setting up house, this place lacks the warmth that I think we both need to thrive. Sure we have each other and there’s always someone to come back home to, but then there’s nothing else. I need culture. I need variety in food and people. Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto have been great to visit being that they are max 4 hours away, however, I’d like to be able to do my hair in the same city (and country for that matter), go to a cafe to hear poetry and spit some out, fly home at a moment’s notice (we are two hours from the closest small airport). Go to shows and go out afterwards to places where I/we am/are not gawked at. Find a church community that is open and affirming in which we can get involved and build relationships. Find a place to volunteer or mentor kids of color. Be at an institution/organization where we have role models. I am tired of being the role model for all these students of color when I myself have no one to bounce ideas off of or talk shop with who really gets where I’m at and what it’s like to be a Black professional. My biggest dream of all is to be in a place where there is a great public transportation network so we don’t have to drive everywhere.

I don’t know how much longer I can I keep my hoodie down, keep my hands out of my pockets when I am contemplating an item in the grocery store, turn out my grocery bags so it’s clear I couldn’t possibly hide anything in it. It’s rare that I don’t hear a call for “clean-up in aisle 4” which is exactly where I happen to be standing trying to make up my mind on what cereal is better for the price. When you are asked to smile more, don’t be so aggressive, don’t speak your mind, especially with White male students, don’t be who you are because it offends the majority of people in town, trust me it gets old.

I am a bit perplexed about needing to move again but then I think to myself, can I do it again? The answer is always yes, although this time with a bit of hesitation because I am part of a duo now.  Then there’s the trouble of telling family that you are moving…again! My family is praying for that perfect job where I will receive my “pension” and retire from. How do I tell them I am a nomad? I like to make change where I can and then move on. Of course not having found that dream job doesn’t help either. Beloved and I embarked on this as a temporary and trial event so moving on from here was bound to happen eventually. Separating from Beloved will be undoubtedly difficult, and even now as we are closer than ever to the time, seems impossible. But I console myself with the fact that we both drive and own cars and can travel and we’ll make it through until such time as our dream jobs and location come our way.

So where does this leave my Pronouncement from 6 months ago? Still at the same place. Still willing to journey with this one amazing woman. Still wanting to work out the kinks and hoping against hope that we can be coming home to each other for a long time to come even if we have to be separated for a while. Still striving to support each other to be our authentic selves.

 

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