Friday, February 22, 2008

First Post of the Year

Mid-February - such a delay for a first 2008 post. I've been distracted by family routines and drama and the new job. But I'm here now.

I lost my coat somewhere, sometime in January. The coat was a grey wool pea coat that my mother and I had purchased together at Nordstrom's, off the sale rack. The right-hand pocket was flawed in that one side of the satiny pocket had never been anchored to the thick outer shell of the coat. To use it, I always had to fish for the opening once my hand passed the slit in the coat. Every time I searched for the side pocket, I thought of my mom telling me, "We'll just sew it up. Easy." We never got around to doing that before she died. The coat got a lot of use. Whenever the temperature dipped below 60, I grabbed it out of the hall closet. For years that coat has been featured in family pictures. For years I've hidden in the coat, protected, comfortable. I thought of getting a new one, but new ones never felt as secure as the grey one with the big black buttons. My sister told me the coat was getting a bit...outdated. Sometimes when the house was particularly chilled, I cuddled beneath the coat. If I was unsure of the weather, I'd take it anyway. Even if the thing stayed draped across the back seat.

So, yeah, the coat is gone. For the life of me I can't remember where it could have been left behind.

I wonder if it got left at a faculty assembly, where I sat between my boss and a Psychology professor. Or maybe it was in a classroom, where I stood at the front of the room and spoke of outlining as a tool to improve writing. Maybe I left it in the room once I gathered my books and flash drive, before I headed out into the dark. Perhaps I simply shed the coat in the hallway outside my little office decorated with books and framed posters from my house. Perhaps I walked and shrugged off the drab grey coat, shrugged it right off my shoulders to show off the lacy blouse beneath, the light-colored slacks, and the platinum pendant swinging against my chest. It must have felt good to walk away from that heavy weight on me.

I know it must have felt good because I didn't even notice its absence for the longest while.

Today, I read homework and assignments and dialogued with students by e-mail. We're having a meeting on Monday afternoon to revive our department's student association. I'm working slowly on an accreditation report due in June. My boss is a lovely person, a former missionary, a lawyer, too. We have lunches together and she always smiles when I walk into her office. When she introduces me to people she knows, she says, "We're just thrilled to have her!"

During the winter intersession at the University I learned that a colleague knows my favorite professor from my alma mater. I realized in that moment that I was where I was always meant to be. In my senior year, I took a detour from my wish to get a doctorate in English. Law school. By walking away from graduate school, I knew I was walking away from an academic career. For many years I agonized about that decision. Dissatisfaction with practicing law grew and weighed down my spirit. The children came, the marriage dipped, I was lost in a fog of displacement. Writing wasn't good enough to quell the lasting ache of having missed what I thought was my long-lost opportunity.

When I heard that I was mere steps away from my English professor, I suddenly saw the full circle.

I shed a weight when I signed on to work at the College. I finally got to a place where I wanted to be. And it feels so good to be free.


Dale said...

I'm so glad.

Adriana Bliss said...

Thank you, Dale.

Fromage de Merde said...

Ah, like ditto long lost child...

Adriana Bliss said...

Oh Patrick, it's so nice to see your little picture here.

Jean said...

Wow, that's so good to read (not about the coat though). And so good to have you back.

kazumi said...

i just love every word.

i'm so happy to hear about your coat and your new job.