I got a call from a friend from Maine. My friend L was my neighbor on The
Scholar Ship, a travel abroad program I was fortunate enough to teach for in 2008.
My life has been challenging since I got shipwrecked in the little college town where
my family lives after the TSS program went under (financially). I have climbed out of
total poverty, unemployment, and homelessness with the incredible support of my
family. Nonetheless, I am a bit bored and terribly lonely in my day-to-day routine
teaching high school.
L called last week ago, and I just wasn’t ready to report to her about my
work-a-day life. I’m always a bit embarrassed to tell fellow university and college
professors that I teach high school. There’s nothing wrong with teaching high
school. I often hear that it’s an honorable pursuit, which it is of course. Nevertheless
this is my third year in a row to prepare at least one new class, and the work
is tedious, and not terribly rewarding. Despite the workload, I also feel as if I
am something of a failure because I am not tenured faculty at a Research One
institution, though that was never my goal. Therefore, I dread Sundays because
there is always work to do, and I never want to do it. Girls just wanna have fun, I
So, to put off work, I called L. L speaks French and Russian fluently and
helped the Armenians create their constitution. Even so, she, too, struggles to find
meaningful work as an adjunct college professor abroad. Yet we both share that
dream. We both love our homes, yet we both want to live abroad and teach, not just
vacation, or even sojourn. Live and teach in foreign lands is our shared goal. Today
we seriously discussed Turkey. She has a friend, and we promised each other would
return to Istanbul….. Time will tell.
Meanwhile I made a comment in passing that L is married, and maybe
it makes it easier for her to salve the restlessness when one has a partner. She
quickly responded that being married did not “help.” The drive to live abroad
is not something a partner can help you quench she declared. She said it was a
challenge one has to face on her own. I was a bit stunned. I always think if I just
had a boyfriend, my boredom would be lessened, my restlessness more controlled.
Perhaps I put too much stock in the sappy notion that “becoming happy” is tied
up with being in a romantic relationship. Intellectually, I know I must be happy
in my own right. No one else can take me there…. Perhaps L woken me up to my
own inertia, and now I can find a way to move forward toward creating my own
happiness despite my not having a yummy boyfriend or a sexy job. Being a grown up
is hard work.