Wednesday, August 20, 2008

catching up

I'm tired.

I came home from Michigan on Sunday night and started work on Monday, a two week stint as a school-age teacher at my friend's ESL child care centre. I really wish I hadn't said yes. I really wish I had more time to process, but that's the way it is. I'm coping, better than coping to tell you the truth. Things are really moving, and I'm moving with them.

I showed up for work on Monday morning expecting to work with children who are six, seven, or eight years old. Instead I am pseudo-camp counselor to a group of eleven to thirteen year olds. They're way too old for the program, and too old for a lot of the toys and equipment that are on site. Most of the time, with ESL, you get kids who have a mix of different languages. Not this time. In my group, everyone speaks the same language. Except me. As a general rule, when we have a mix of kids, they need to use English to communicate with each other. It strengthens their skills, and allows them to build friendships with new people.

Not these girls. And they're typically pre-teen. They're cliquey. They like to giggle at everything. They are embarrassed about their language skills and so they avoid talking to me at all. The first day was a hard slog, and I was ready to quit at the end of the day. There was nothing, really for them to do. By Tuesday I had solved that problem with a combination of Dollarama shopping and plundering my own storeroom. And I learned once again, that some languages are universal.

Soccer. We played Tuesday, but almost everyone had arrived with some type of summer footwear. Today they were ready - with running shoes on their feet. We have a tiny little playground that's full of playground equipmend designed for four year olds, but we make do. Next week, we'll be able to use the gym.

Music. Specifically, for these girls, Hannah Montana. They like Hannah Montana a lot. They, with little English, can tell me all about Hannah Montana and what channel and what time it's on. I know nothing about Hannah Montana and I'm taking a crash course in order to have something to talk to them about. But one topic of conversation led to another, and today we talked about the things we like, the things we don't, the things they miss about their home. They miss the river they used to swim in every day. They miss their families, they miss the food.

There's always one that tugs in my heartstrings. This time, it's a small, athletic girl with hair in her eyes, who is a fantastic soccer player. She hates Hannah Montana, she tells me. But her English is not as good as everyone else's, and this makes her defensive. She acts out. She gets the other girls going. She talks about me, and I know it because the girls give me these little sidelong glances as they titter at me. They all look up to her, and I don't even think she's aware, that they wait to eat something new until she's tried it, because they know she'll try it. They circle around her, the girl/boy with the defiant scowl and the crossed arms.

I like her a lot. But she's afraid of me, afraid of my authority, not sure how this adult will view her penchant for soccer, and running, and her dislike of fine motor activities.

The writer's workshop was amazing. I met some fantastic people, had some wonderful mentorship and I am inspired. Going to work, to a life I haven't lived in months is very jarring, after living in peace, freedom and companionship for five days.

And coming home was hell. For about an hour until the dust settled. We go through these phases, he and I, where I move ahead and he stays in place, or moves backwards. it's the opposite of Sally Field saying "You like me, you really like me." He has to remind himself, when I get back, that we are really not together anymore. He wonders why I don't tell him everything. I never did, but there are things I choose not to share, sweet little gems of moments that need to be kept sacred, kept for me alone. And so we argue until he repositions his mind into the correct frame, and then we continue along as before. Separate, but sharing a house, sharing a child, sharing the finances and the workload.

I can't see this lasting indefinitely. I have stuff to do, and I don't think he's going to take it very well, even though he's the one who's talking about dating again. But there's, thankfully, no pressure for me to work outside the house, no push for me to get a job and forget about the freedom of creating, no push (now that he's reconciled himself again) to be anything other than who I am.

And it's good. But out there in the world, there are people who know, that I can be completely relaxed and comfortable around, and people who don't know. I decided that the barrier's not going back up again, so whether the people in my life know, or don't know about my sexuality, they get the me that I've always been, from now on. Barefoot. A little wild. Free. Honest. If they ask me, I will tell them.

But I'm starting to push it a little further. I have this urge to tell everyone, now, if not sooner, because I think they deserve the chance to know the real me. They've been missing out on the fundamentals all this time, and they need to catch up. And if they don't like it, well, I'll deal with that if I have to.

Someday I might even want to date again.

I have to drive my niece home this Friday. I have to go back to my hometown Saturday for my brother's birthday (yes, the brother who was almost killed two and a half weeks ago, who is home and almost back to normal). And then I have to pick up my niece again on Sunday. Three trips in the car in three days. Too much time and money - and so N suggested that a weekend at my mom's might work well.

Except I am not out. And I need to be, in order to be comfortable spending any more than an hour or two with them. I don't have two lives anymore, there's one fantastic life that I'm living and I absolutely refuse to compromise for the sake of keeping secrets. So I go visit for the weekend and tell them, or I don't go at all.

edit: Not this weekend. I've spent the whole week without a minute to myself and I am craving time alone. The worst thing I could do to myself is spend a weekend at my parents and again have no time to myself. It would end badly, because I would be tense and angry. I need to be good to myself and take the time and space that I need.

Stay tuned. Things are only going to get more interesting from here on out.


Maria said...

Well, now...keep us informed. Sounds like you are going to have some pretty interesting experiences very soon.

Camlin said...

I've changed my mind about disclosing anything this weekend. If I stay at my parents I'll be denying myself time and space that I really need. But it won't be long before those moments come...

Earth Muffin said...

Good for you, just being yourself. You're a great person to be.

Glad to hear your brother is doing well.

Mon said...

Tag, you are it...