Grieving, Surviving, & Thriving
Posted August 24, 2009on:
I haven’t twittered in weeks and now the names feel strange to me, probably in part because my time zone has changed so the streams I was most used to viewing are no longer appearing at the times I am most likely to be online.
So I did it, the scary impossible task. I found housing in the Bay Area. Unfortunately I won’t be able to move in for another two weeks, until then I’m staying with friends. But I have an address now.
I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to find housing, that I’d have to live with my mom and commute the two hours to the Bay Area. Yet, now I have housing and it doesn’t make me happy. I’m in a terrible funk. It’s a walking funk. It’s a functioning funk. But it’s a deep sadness that refuses to answer to a name and refuses to dissipate.
If I wasn’t using this blog chiefly as a means of writing my way to the other side of something I don’t think I’d tell you this. I haven’t told anyone else. They’d want an explanation or worse, they’d shrug and tell me it will pass. And it will pass. It’s just that these kinds of lingering funks never feel like they’re going to pass when you’re sitting in the middle of them.
I’ve kind of been in denial about how wrenching this move was going to be. Before I went to Denmark I sometimes had vague flashes of recognition that when I left the United States I was leaving behind much more than my native soil; I was leaving an entire life behind to begin a new one. I think it was hard for me to acknowledge before I had done the deed that moving my life to San Francisco would be murdering the life I had in San Diego. Moving my life from the San Joaquin Valley to San Diego was definitely a death knoll to the life that had been. In retrospect it was a small price to pay for the new pieces of myself that I found in Southern California. I hope after a short, cathartic mourning period, I’ll eventually feel the same way about my life in San Francisco, that anything I lost in attaining it was a price I’d gladly pay again.
But for now, every one keeps asking me if I’m happy that I’m starting an MFA program. It was after all the big dream I worked towards for the last 3 years or more. I tell them I’m ecstatic, but the truth is I am grieving for the simple pleasures of my old life in San Diego. I miss my friends. I miss knowing what tomorrow will look like. I miss feeling like I belonged somewhere. I feel a lot like Wile E. Coyote, like I’ve wondered off a ledge and am temporarily walking on air until I have the presence of mind to look down.
I’m told the first semester is hard on every graduate student, that it’s a period of intense stress and confusion when the best thing you can do is be patient with yourself and ask as many questions (stupid and otherwise) as you can until the new landscape begins to become clear to you.
Tomorrow is my program orientation and the day after my first day of classes. I wish I felt more prepared, but I am ready to be compassionate with myself about my sadness and my fear. I was going to write that I was strong enough to do this, but I think what I really need to remember is that this is going to be fun, that I’m going to meet a lot of talented writers, get a lot of useful feedback on my work, and read a lot of poetry books I’ve never read before. These are the first steps towards the life I wanted and just because they’re not easy doesn’t mean they’ll be painful. Just because I will have to work harder than I have in a long time, doesn’t mean I’m walking into a struggle to survive. I’ve already learned the things I need to know about surviving. This is a story of thriving.