Thoughts on a Journey’s End

It began four years ago.  My husband, dog, and I piled into our car for a cross-country drive from Wisconsin to Seattle, while movers (supposedly) carted all our belongings for us.  Thus began the journey that would span five states, four churches, over ten different schools, and two doctorate degrees.

It’s a little surreal now to look back on how it all began – the weeks spent sleeping on a borrowed air mattress watching Arrested Development episodes on a laptop in our empty apartment while we waited for our furniture to be delivered.  The constant job-hunting and trips to the library to borrow their internet.  The late nights my husband spent at the lab, sometimes studying and researching, sometimes jamming out with his buddies in the “lab band.”  The church that became our home, the youth room with splatter-painted walls and candlelit discussions with the youth group on the floor of an empty church sanctuary.  And then came the big life questions, the fears and the prayers, and his acceptance into the accelerated optometry program.  Then came the frantic late nights as he finished his thesis and I searched for employment and a place to live on the opposite coast.  Then came the panic and the deliberately measured breathing, the prayers cried – and the prayers answered.  Then came Boston.  

Boston brought a year of joys and a year of hell – in the same year.  Boston brought a rediscovery of my teaching identity, success in two different schools, and the kids that cried when I left.  Boston brought a family I couldn’t expect, God’s love poured out through a pastor with a superman watch.  Boston also brought the hardest battles I’ve ever fought, the nights of work and sleep and stress like I’ve never seen before.  Nights spent struggling to revamp curriculum and build a program where no foundation had ever been laid.  Nights I spent curled up on the floor, sleeping in front of a fireplace near my husband’s chair, just supporting him with my presence while he studied into the smallest hours of the morning.  The finals that came every three weeks for him, every test carrying the weight of the world.  That’s what happens when you cram three years of optometry school into 15 months.  Stress.  Like you cannot imagine.

But we survived and we moved on.  To Illinois, Alaska, and Florida.  I shared one home with my sister and brother-in-law, another home with five other male interns, and then rented an apartment from a 50-year-old Cuban man.  For six months of the last year I slept on mattresses with no bed frames.  I cooked in borrowed pots and pans, and improvised meals out of empty pantries.  I watched the beginning of a dogsled race in Alaska and kayaked the beaches of Key Biscayne.  And I worked, teaching everything from a 3rd grade class with 14 students to a large public high school averaging 25 students per class.

Five days ago my husband and I piled into our car for yet another road trip across the US.  We traveled up the east coast from Miami to Boston, and this morning, my husband graduated (again), signifying the end of this phase our lives.  I don’t know exactly what our future holds yet, though I have some ideas.  I know it includes at least one more road trip, to take us back home.  Finally, we’re going home.  I’m looking forward to setting down some roots this summer, whatever that may look like.  I’m looking forward to not being a nomad anymore.

However stressful these last four years have been, they’ve built me.  I’m not the same person that moved away from Wisconsin in 2009.  I’m a different teacher and a stronger person.  My husband has accomplished amazing things in the last four years, and I’m so ridiculously proud of him.  And I’m ridiculously excited for the next chapter of our lives.

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