Here We Be, Again
Lucky me, all these old diary entries, sometimes (often times) I forget little details. This old story about my uncle, maybe there is still magic left, but what if we don't remember. He has a FB photo up now, there was a shooting in the town where we grew up, five dead, he had taken a picture of one of the victims a few years back.
I am in full blown midlife crisis now, new name and now new career. A random phone call and a few decisions later and off to a new life. I have a conference in Portland, and a week later I am no longer a dean. This is unexpected. It was a goal and a dream and I am willingly killing it.
Before I was a dean, my work was mostly proposal writing, and I spent my days steeped in rhetorical devices and literature and practicepracticepractice putting words to paper in whatever combination felt compelling or odd or to the point. I still write grants from time to time, but I can see I have a different voice, am no longer fluent in that language, and write with a heavy accent. I used to keep a spreadsheet of those grants, but it was at least $30 million of funded proposals. I've missed that work. I feel like I contribute to a good cause now, but my days are spent mediating misunderstandings, navigating bureaucratic procedures, endless meetings. At one point, when things were really unbalanced, I had about 50 direct reports, thirty full time faculty and staff and a host of part-time instructors. Twice a month, I had to spend an hour or two simply clicking buttons to approve work and leave time.
Tengo miedo, por supuesto. But I am ready to believe in magic again.
Do you know we have known each other 9 years, she says, and soon we are reliving memories of wandering gingko shaded parks in a haze of nausea and self-consciousness. The telephone is such an intimate means of communication to me, it is magical and confusing and intimidating. I can never use it without the risk of breaking into a full, uncomfortable sweat at all the awkward, fumbling pauses and doubt about my performance. Texting is so much easier, texting is like watching other people who know what they are doing.
On my run, I saw the most incredible cherry blossoms on a fallen tree, knocked over by this winter’s storm. It will be the last time this tree ever comes into bloom and it is alive with bees and butterflies, and it will live on in other roots throughout the hillside, and maybe even further, beyond the Nisqually, perhaps across the Olympics.
I am satisfied that I have lived to see myself gray before shaved pate. My right temple is now almost completely silver, and I see the attraction. If I live again, I will dye my hair white before it completely falls out. What a pretty, elegant way to age, like creeping snow lines on mountains majesty.
Years ago, I would have filled this space with photographs of my children in theatre, or of morels hunted along the trails, or avian visitors to my deck, or stones picked up along my run. I have been tumbling rocks, and once a week I change the grit, jerryrig the busted belts, and wait and wait and wait. I would post photographs of my son and I out on the lake in our kayaks, or of my wife laughing at missed lines, or of flowers rising from stone beds. It all now seems too personal to share.
My uncle, who has never had children, but has been a father to multitudes, received such a sweet ode of praise from the granddaughter of my kindergarten teacher. She said that every time she drives under a bridge she remembers something he used to say. “Close your eyes. I’ll make the rain stop.”
There is some magic left, whatever else you might believe.
Everything that I have been online coincides with the time I left my last job for the one I have now. A decade of torn identity between the imaginary and the bill paying. It seems so sad now, looking around my office, photos and mementos and wisps of alter egomania.
Here we go, my uncle used to say, when the rollercoaster car crested, the endless summer expanse of Central Texas daring us to do our damnedest. Here we go.
Here we’ve been.
Do not ever forget where you have been.
And here we go.
Do not fear where we go.