Thursday, August 20, 2009

A distant motorcade... and suddenly, there's joy

This week marks the one year mark of my return to Minnesota after 4 years of college in Madison, WI. As my seven diligent readers know, it's been a rough year. In all fairness it's been a bipolar year more than anything else.

I've been beaten up by a seemingly endless job search, only to be rewarded with a job 100 times better than all the ones that turned me down. I've missed my Madison friends and roommates more than I ever imagined, while spending time with the people who first made me who I am. I've been confused over a breakup that, for some reason or another, took a different trajectory than the ones in which I have previously participated. I've been tossed back into single-dom, a place I haven't been in well over 2 years. I've been trying to become a full-fledged member of my immediate family while simultaneously trying to hold fast to my independence. I've lived one final year alongside someone I know came to me by an act of divine intervention five years ago.

Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy, rejuvenating me and making me feel like I’m finally getting it together:

Perhaps the most exciting news I have is that I'm going to be a dance team coach at my high school this year. After a slight fear that my full-time job was too chaotic and unpredictable to take on a second, I was assured by several co-workers this week that I too deserve a work-life balance. As my first duty, I went to freshman orientation last week (alone!) to give a short spiel on our team to the incoming students. The mini speech went fine- it's easy to talk up a team that gave me confidence and leadership skills when I needed them the most.

As I drove out of the parking lot after the short meeting, I was cat-called by a small group of the freshman boys I had just spoken to in the audience. I pretended to ignore them, impatiently fumbling with my music selection as one of them knocked on my hood as a last-ditch attempt to get my attention.

I'm glad to know that high school boys haven't changed in the last ten years, actually. I want to find the smart but amiable freshman girls on my team and warn them: Do not flirt with the freshman football player with an earring, who is from the suburbs but thinks Tupac understands him best. His mom picks out his clothes. He'll ask to copy your homework, and then he'll lose it. After all your trouble, he'll end up dating the girl on the volleyball team that makes out with guys in the hidden hallway on the 3rd floor.

I want to tell them but I know that they all have to experience it firsthand. I hope, as in my case, that they come out on the other end of high school bent but not broken.

Every day that I log into Facebook, the same four or five people bring down my chi with their negative statuses. For some, it's their work or co-workers. I find this to be in extremely poor taste in general, but I also think that anyone with a job right now should realize how lucky they are. Nothing is guaranteed in this marketplace- why give anyone a reason to doubt your loyalty or enthusiasm?

The other, perhaps more obnoxious, contributors to my daily depression are those in tumultuous relationships. I can't imagine trashing my boyfriend one day and then declaring my undying love for him the next, but these people exist. They exist and they NEVER. STOP. POSTING.

Being the good ex-Catholic that I am (I only retained the guilt!) I cannot fathom de-friending them. Most are still within a few degrees of separation and there is the potential that I will see them around town. So, what to do? I blocked those assclowns. They no longer show up on my feed, but are still technically my "friends". It sounds silly, but I cannot tell you what a sense of relief I feel logging in and knowing that I will not be bombarded with rageful traffic updates from a girl who lives ten states away. It is true what they say- negativity breeds negativity. I have no time for these nay-sayers in my new, fabulous life.

I've been lucky enough this year to get back in touch with a few different friends from my past.

Earlier this summer, a friend and I had conflicting plans for Memorial Day weekend and had to drive to a cabin separately from the larger group. Unexpectedly, the 7+ hours of travel proved not to be enough time to discuss our future plans and goals, and what might stand in the way of them. As we segued from self-induced stress to the importance of finding a career that fulfills you without skipping a beat, I realized that I hadn’t had a conversation like this in years. Perhaps, ever. We continue to keep in touch, sharing both insights and music, and I am grateful that our inconvenient scheduling yielded an opportunity to bond over the quiet pressures of being a 20-something with an uncertain future.

A few weeks ago, another friend returned home for law school, and we made plans for dinner. I was ecstatic to see that he’s still brilliant but self-effacing, and has the same wicked sense of humor I remember from when we were kids. Oh, and he came bearing mix CD’s. We have plans to keep exploring the culture of Minneapolis together (it must exist, somewhere deep below the Nickelback concerts and Twilight pre-screenings) and I'm loving that I have a go-to music/politics/societal commentator in my midst again.

On a different but happy note- Teresa also made a quick comeback appearance, in her 2-week overlap between Colombia and Madison. As we sat at dinner, playfully communicating via an “OH REALLY?!” followed by a few eyebrow raises, we busted into giggles. Bobby asks incredulously, “How long were you two roommates?” and we both are still laughing as I say “Three glorious months.” You could chalk up our dynamic to having been raised in parallel environments, or that we are both interested in journalism, writing, and media. I know the truth- that we pretend to be tough but will sob our way through sad movies; that we are sarcastic but know when we’ve gone too far; that we have had the same best friends for decades because we like to grow alongside them rather than replace them. We’re the same in a lot of ways, and to have her even 5 hours away is a great relief.

It’s the beginning of a whole new year, and to a certain extent, a whole new life. My period of maladjustment is coming to a welcome end, and I’m excited to finally be finding the balance between the two very different lives that have been pulling me apart since last May.


Emily Elizabeth said...

Love this, Gina - can't tell you enough how much I'm relating to this post! Except I have only been out of college for 8 months and although I have two jobs, neither is my dream and I find myself spending hours each night locked into a seemingly endless job hunt!! It'll come soon enough!! :) Can't wait to see you at our FIVE year reunion next weekend! We should probably sneak in some Dairy Queen... maybe they're catering?