Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ambivalence & Grief

Next week I head up to Alaska for my final interview in Wasilla. Then it will be decision time - they will either offer it to me or they will not. I will either decide to take it or decide to pass. I honestly am not sure how I feel about that.

This evening I've been sorting through boxes in my closet to figure out what things I would move with me and what things I'd be willing to part with. I have boxes and boxes of STUFF - cards from old friends, concert ticket stubs, restaurant menus from past dates with my husband, pressed flowers from old gardens, brochures from museums, quotes that impressed me, and all the rest...the detritus of fifty plus years of living that I've clung to despite having moved time and time again.

Do I still keep holding on to all those tokens of times past or might it be time to let much of it go? Not sure. (part of that, I suspect, will be determined on whether the new company agrees to pay for the move.)

In one box I found several different cards wishing me well on the occasions of having left my various jobs. So many goodbyes have accumulated along the way of my vagabond life.

I understand the concept of looking on life as a glass half full, choosing to focus on the blessing of having known so many great people scattered across the country as I've criss crossed this land over the years. Most days I do feel quite privileged by the opportunities I have had to cross paths with so many dear folks from all walks of life. But tonight I am feeling the sharp sting of the loss of each of those sweet friendships and the bite of having had to say too many goodbyes.

While I DO look forward to the chance to take on this big adventure (I think), I feel pensive and sad over the prospect of once more being in a town where I have zero history or sense of belonging. I am more than a little intimidated about again having to start all over from scratch in establishing a social network of people to sweeten my life.

Because this particular job will put me back into a "boss" role at work I know I won't feel free to have the rich friendships at my workplace that I've had at some of my other jobs. I can get along great with others and build a strong sense of team. But being the boss means there will have to be boundaries that sometimes leave me feeling a bit isolated.

I expect I will meet people at my church and hopefully make some friends there. But even that can be difficult at times. I'm too liberal and unconventional for a lot of the church people I meet.. and yet too faith based and accepting of certain religious ideas and rules to fit in with the liberal, unconventional folks I know. So all too often I am stuck in the middle of no man's land, wondering if this is similar to what some bi-racial people experience, never completely fitting in either world.

I keep thinking of the people here who I have come to love so very much over the past eight years, and those who have proven their grit through layers of mutual support and shared challenges. I think of those who have fully accepted me despite our major differences in values and those who have shared of themselves over the years in truly significant ways. I am mindful of all I will be giving up to embrace this new adventure. I honestly believe that if we get the opportunity to go we should grab it. I am convinced that in many ways it will be an amazing experience that I will revel in with passion and fervor. But at the very same time, I know that saying goodbye to this place, these friends, the sense of connection and belonging that I have painstakingly woven here is going to break my heart.

There is no one sided penny. There is indeed opposition in all things. In coming days I will work hard to choose to focus on the good parts of this opportunity, should it open up to enfold me. But tonight I'm feeling the fear and the grief. Tonight I'm afraid that if they said "sorry, we pick someone else" I would simply give a huge sigh of relief.

We'll see what next week brings.

Most things in life get easier with practice. Repeating a thing over and over again usually brings increased levels of mastery. But not coping with grief. The aching stab of loss just gets compounded with practice. Every new loss seems to piggyback on the preceding separations, widening the cavern of emptiness all the more.

Whether we leave in the next couple months to head off to Alaska or wait till the fall and try again for Idaho I WILL eventually be leaving the life I have carved out for myself here in Eastern Oregon. Knowing that separation is absolutely coming with naked inevitability - whether sooner or later - has my heart wincing in anticipatory grief. All the positive parts of what come next simply cannot blot out the cost of the loss.


Jen said...

Good luck. It will all work out for the best.

For the boxes of memories--could you take pictures, and burn them onto CD's, and then let the things go? Just a thought.

"I'm too liberal and unconventional for a lot of the church people I meet.. and yet too faith based and accepting of certain religious ideas and rules to fit in with the liberal, unconventional folks I know. So all too often I am stuck in the middle of no man's land."

I feel the same way often. Have you watched on You Tube the excerpt from Elder Holland's talk "None Were With Him"

What's Cool in AK said...

Best of luck with your interview in Wasilla! As cold and dark as Alaska can be, it is truly a fascinating and magical place. Like dancing in the rain, camping without a tent, and skydiving, living in Alaska is one of those things that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.

There are plenty of opportunities to build a social network in Alaska, too. Wasilla and Anchorage are full of empathetic transplants who will make you fell very welcome.

By the way, thanks so much for the link in your previous post. How cool it is to be quoted!

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