Cafe Hitch-hike


Stories of Guideposts and Milestones

Dear HH,

I was just informed of your promotion to associate librarian. Congratulations! As you know, you had the overwhelming support of your colleagues and supervisor, along with my very strong support. I received a letter from the academic grand pubah about your promotion, so it was my great pleasure to receive this notification.

If you don't mind, I would like for us to send out a message to the building acknowledging this milestone in your career.

My very best wishes,

The Grand Pubah

I was too aghast to fully take it in. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or cheer. At last, I got the promotion. After a failed (and very sabotaged) process in 2010, it is official.

I won't mention that I had to do twice the work everyone else did to get to that rank. I'll just say it here, but nowhere else.

I won't mention that some haters really fucked it up for me 8 years ago, one of which was my own direct supervisor.

I won't mention that I outlived all of those haters, and fuck, my work seriously blew all of theirs out of the water.

I won't mention that a lot of the energy that allowed me to do those things was out of the rage and frustration from my first bid, and that I allowed it to really grind me to where it affected other relationships.

I also won't mention that I burned my portfolio shortly before I left Xanadu Tech for Edgewhere College. I'll say these things here, in secret, so I don't seem to be some ungrateful or spiteful bitch.

I'll just say these things here so I can silently live with those truths, along with other ugly, cold and hard ones.

I had a lukewarm response from Timmy (am I surprised?). I went home after work and cooked myself some black beans and rice with mojo seasoned pork chops. I then fried pieces of a plantain and made an avocado and tomato salad. I got messages of well-wishes and 'congratulations!' from my friends and family.

I then cried in my kitchen for a few minutes.

It's like what I said to Timmy 2 weeks ago as I sat in shock in my living room that was cluttered with boxes. I dressed really pretty that night and tried to be entertaining as I could be, but I felt a lump in my chest and he saw right through my facade. I said, "when will I wake up and be told none of this was real? When will this get taken away?"

Then, I think it's just plain emotional exhaustion when I looked back at the very long road from there to here. I guess I should be proud or happy that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do, but instead, I feel surprise. Did I really stay on it this long? Did I really navigate through so many complications? Was I able to get back up after getting shot? Was I able to have courage trump my anxiety enough to have momentum to go forward? Am I really one who's survived so far?

But yes... emotional exhaustion. I guess if I ever feel weird, all I have to do is think of my Univ. Rust Belt State classmate Gretna. She was employed by the local school board and got her teaching credentials in her 40s. She was able to retire at age 55 and started an agency that mediated disciplinary issues in schools and also provided diversity training. Gretna did that for 10 years, and announced her retirement about 3 months ago.

The backstory: Gretna was in an abusive marriage and fled with her 2 kids to a domestic abuse shelter. She lived there for almost a year before she could step out and start life as a single mother; the staff at the shelter had a graduation ceremony in her honor. About 12 years later, as a fully tenured teacher and homeowner, she had a graduation party for her daughter. The father/ex helped Gretna organize the gathering and it was quite a nice celebration. She was happy the party turned out well. She didn't know if she could trust the father to do his part, but he came through.

At the end, Gretna quietly sighed a sense of disbelief followed by relief. She said the event was a cumulation of all the difficulties she had to go through. She seemed tired, yet so glad it worked out. The daughter was off to college, and Gretna would soon have to prepare for her second child following those steps. The party was a graduation for both Gretna and her daughter, and especially for Gretna who had a very difficult road.

Gretna was able to retire at age 55 and spent the rest of her career doing something she was passionate about doing and was making a difference. I think of Gretna and I feel proud, and am so glad I got to meet someone like her.

Gretna didn't stop once she got her teaching degree. She also didn't settle for being a teacher. In the last 10 years of her teaching career, she worked with some very influential educators and co-authored some high-impact publications on diversity issues in K-12 settings. When I think of Greta, what she shared with me, and where she is now, I feel courage. I feel okay about feeling as tired as hell at various points in the road. Then, her life signaled me to keep an eye on those guideposts; at least they will signal that it all means something and it usually does lead somewhere.

downwind | upstream