I’m not a big holiday person. Calendar-based social expectations make me feel claustrophobic and resentful: We’re going to spend a day off cooking and cleaning? When we could sleep late, drink coffee in bed, and read online astrology websites until noon? I like days with no commitments because they seem more open to possibilities, which feels holier to me than filling up the empty spaces with what I experience as too much conversation and busyness. But then I’m an introverted hermit who uses her tiny reserve of extroversion to remain employed and minimally social.
I am the person who enjoyed spending a Christmas alone, eating Thai food and watching the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
So, it’s Black Friday, and I’m planning to walk forty blocks so I can buy cat food at the drug store instead of getting trampled at Target. Later, I’ll hang out with my sister whose wife and kids are out of town, which means we can swear as much as we want and watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy if we choose–something we did on New Year’s Day a few years ago. I know that sounds like a sucky day to some (many?) people, but like me, my sister also just wants a day to unwind, free from responsibility. We’ll enjoy being together, but in a way that asks virtually nothing of either of us–something that restores us.
I’m thankful for so many things this year. I’m back in the West where I’m simply a better, more charitable person. I have a spacious, adorable apartment that I love. After two solid months of looking, Portland opened up and offered me a place to settle just when I was about to get in my car and drive away. I bought a queen-sized bed to affirm the idea that I’m not going anywhere. I bought dishes–new ones instead of the thrift store china I usually buy and leave behind when I leave. I love my job at the high school for many reasons. My co-workers are friendly, genuine people who care about education. I’m learning new skills while getting paid to use the ones I already possess. The students I work with are sweet and happy to be directed toward resources. I’m not living at the poverty level and being told how lucky I am to teach for virtually nothing in the hopes that I’ll be offered a tenure track position.
In 2006, I lost my career in one day due to an arm and shoulder injury. It’s been a long, often scary journey that led me away from what I thought I was supposed to do to who I am supposed to be. When I was still flailing, in pain, and broke, I couldn’t see that I would eventually recover enough to get into grad school or that my resourcefulness would show me how to make a way out of no way. I got used to working with so little that I now feel abundant and grateful–as if I have something to give.
I need a lot of space to let that in.