Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I'm not much for drawing, so when I'm really bored and meant to be doing something else, I write things down. To-do lists, my name 25 times in different handwriting, places I've been, places I want to go, books I am reading. The other day my students were working on an assignment in class, and wrote down every place I've ever lived. Good lord.
1. San Antonio, Texas: I've never lived here, but you have to be allowed to count the place where you were born.
2. Altus, Oklahoma: 1988-89
3. Spangdahlem, Germany: 1989-1992
4. Bowie, Maryland: 1992-93
5. Newport News, Virginia: 1993-96
6. Dayton, Ohio: 1996-98
7. Keflavik, Iceland: 1998-2000
8. Las Vegas, Nevada: 2000-03
9. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: 2003-06
10. Charleston, South Carolina: 2006-08, 2009-10
11. Nottingham, England: 2008
12. Tübingen, Germany: 2009
13. Broomall, Pennsylvania: 2010-11
14. Quito, Ecuador: (yes, I count it) 2011
15. Sadao, Songkhla, Thailand: 2011-2012
Pretty impressive for just 23 years, no?
Something I'm rapidly realizing about adulthood is that it leaves a person downright exhausted at the end of the day. My situation may be a little out of the ordinary - I suppose most people at least have a language in common with most of the people they encounter during the day - but I think that even without the language barrier, I would be too tired to do much else than watch some shows, make dinner, and call it an early night.
As I was never a big partier, I'm not too worried about missing out on clubs, bars, and drunken exploits. I'm sure a number of those remain in my future, but it's ok that they're not in my present. What is particularly distressing for me (besides the fact that I have to get out of bed every morning) is the fact that, these days, I'm really too tired to do much thinking. That may sound ridiculous, and it probably is, but whether it's the language, the often mind-numbing monotony of a full-time job, or just the heat, I feel like my brain just clunks along, churning out only the most necessary of thoughts. Sometimes I don't even get those. I still plan on going into academia, so we'll see how this pans out.
I'm being a little over-dramatic - I still manage to teach about 300 kids a new language without speaking theirs, I can get around a foreign country with relative ease (and again, without speaking the language), and I haven't gotten bitten by a cobra yet. I worry, though, that I've lost the ability to really take in everything that's going on in my life, as well as the ability to appreciate all that is good about it. I'm too tired to look about the window and see what's really there - mountains, trees, an incredible mist that is a constant reminder of how much moisture is in the air, even on the dry days. It's other-worldly, a view unlike anything I've ever had before, but I can't quite take it in. It's like a dream. Everything is slightly foggy, a little bit unsettling, and easily forgotten. Because I am exhausted.
I used to read Shakespeare, watch foreign films, take long walks just to look and think and imagine. I would create things. I could spend hours talking about something I'd read or seen or thought. A breeze, the smell of rain, those evening hours when you can actually see beams of sunlight - all of these would send me off someplace else for a moment, and when I was there, it was as though I could really see everything. I could step outside of life and take in the substance of it all. I'm trying to get there again.