(Slight Preface) Sometimes I struggle with how much I should reveal on this blog. I use it to write and reflect, but it’s not necessarily a diary. This morning I had something interesting happen to me, and I really don’t want it to be incriminating, but it’s a subject I struggle with. Maybe I’ll private this post, but for now, here it goes:
Today is my last day of work at the non-profit I was placed at for my year of service. I will be starting work at another non-profit on Tuesday, and with them I will finish out my LVC year. Everyone at my office knows it’s my last day, and even though I resigned, I am sad to be leaving folks. I’ve learned a lot here and I’ve connected with some of the individuals I work with. I know I’ve connected with them because not only do I feel saddened to say good-bye, but they have made it obvious as well. Some people have asked for my phone number/email, all have written on a card, all have visited my office and asked where I am off to next. One of the guys I work with came into my office this morning and said the following, “so I’ll probably never see you again.” with his voice wavering, he continued, "please don’t file me for sexual harrassment, but you’re a very uh…special person."
Initially I thought, “oh god, is he hitting on me?” The individual is about 60 years old, black and male. And then I thought, perhaps he had to give that precaution because of the society he grew up in. His parent’s generation was during Emmett Till. Black men, even now (let’s us think of Trayvon), have been subjected to these horrifying stereotypes. Ralph Ellison describes in “Invisible Man" how white women would cross the street away from him when he would walk by. I can’t even imagine living my life with having to go through so many precautions because someone deemed my skin color as a threat, or other things that come with racism. I’m not saying race or age really had to do with his warning to me. Maybe not everything in this world is about oppression, racism, ageism, and all those other isms. But, his need to throw out a warning, did make my mind go into these tangents of thoughts.
And then all of my empathy was diluted when I realized he was hitting on me. He later hinted to my looks and attractiveness. I’m not going to tell on him. And I wont take it too much to heart. However, sometimes I think I can over-think things too much. Here is an example where I immediately became empathetic because I made an assumption about an individual’s interaction with society, when in reality, it was an example of harassment (not that I feel violated or anything close to that). At least I was able to discern by the end of the interaction I was being hit-on. So, that was my morning at my last day of work.
Just ran my first half marathon. Feeling pretty bad ass. The best feeling in the world was seeing my housemates cheering at miles 4.5, 8, and the finish line. I felt so much lighter and happier, like I could do anything, even though I found feel the giant blisters on my feet. Every time I brought a foot forward, I could feel the fluid move. Definitely not an ideal running situation, but seeing my housemates and the “just do it” I painted on my nails, made me get through 13.1 miles.
My boyfriend has been gone this weekend. After crossing the finish line and getting water in me, I texted him. I already can’t wait to do another race. Our relationship has already been filled with awesomeness, and our plans for the future include hikes, camping, sailing, exploring Europe, and living together. But, I am excited to do even more with him. We’ve been together for a short time, but it’s beyond great to have someone who wants to explore and DO things. Not just wish to do things, but actually do them.
Within 5 days of quitting my previous job, I have a new job. I want to say I am a very lucky girl, but the truth is, I worked my ass off in so many ways. Not saying I deserve a new job so quickly, but it’s not being served to me on a silver platter. At my new placement (I am in a yearlong volunteer service program, I am placed at a non-profit for one year) I will be delivering meals and groceries to homebound individuals. About half of the individuals have HIV/AIDS, and the other half have some sort of medical condition, all of them are unable to leave their houses to get food. I feel beyond privileged to have this new position. So many of us want to volunteer and help, but rarely do we actually see the faces of those suffering.
I think about the “white salvation complex” and I, as well as my roommates, are all reflective of this idea. Is our volunteering furthering this notion of white people in power versus the marginalized still marginalized? For us, in our program, I would say - maybe. When I tell people of what I am doing they say, “Bravo! Good for you!” I don’t ask them if they are saying that because they are impressed I would decide to actually live a life of simplicity and walk with the “salt of the earth” or because they wish they could do the same. Either way, I wish race didn’t have anything to do with our choice to live a year of service. I want to serve others, not because I think, “oh no, people neeeeed me, these pooooor people” but because I want to give compassion and service, as I have experienced through my life. I’ve had it easy, relatively, and I want to serve others before I go out into “the real world.”
Yesterday, Andrew and I were finishing our run and we went to the grocery store to pick up some beer. Outside a man sitting on a bench called out, “hey road runner” to Andrew. He was one of the gentleman Andrew serves at the hot meal/food bank program at his non-profit. We chatted with the man and his partner of 10 years. Laughing about egos, nice weather, and finally having socks that weren’t soaked. The man and his partner, through those nuanced cues we cannot quite verbalize, were either experiencing homelessness or had experienced it. We, two individuals who went to private Lutheran schools, were seemingly more privileged than most. And this is how I think it should be, showing compassion and friendship to anyone, whatever they are experiencing. Because we’re all human, after all.
I’m scared shitless to embark on looking for a new job to fulfill the rest of my time during my year-long volunteer commitment. I think being scared is a good thing. It’s like jumping in cold water — nice to be shocked and aware of your surroundings, body, breath, and uncomfortable cold.
And we lost the apartment we wanted. I’m assuming this means it wasn’t meant to be and the apartment we decide to live in will be even better than the one we lost. I spent a few hours working on an excel spreadsheet of companies and job descriptions I’m interested in. It makes me excited to see job listings I could actually do, even at the tender age of 22. I feel hopeful for the future, between finding a job to support myself, finding meaningful and intriguing work, to living with my boyfriend in a place we will eventually call home.
I love a good challenge and diving headfirst into the unknown is just the kind of thing that drives me.
Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, walk to work, run to train platform, sit on light rail while students talk loudly, open up work building, review emails and to-do lists, communicate, stare at computer, start editing spread sheets and letters, keep your head up, listen and nod, ask questions, don’t take breaks, look for perfect jobs, send emails, write status reports, write cover letters, edit cover letters, send resume, send cover letters, plan, plan, plan, communicate, review former listed skills, keep searching, edit spreadsheets, finish month long projects, look for apartments, freak out about money, plan for future, check finances, communicate with friends/family, listen them tell you to do better/never stop/keep searching/plan for your future, walk home in the rain, make dinner, exercise, clean room, clean kitchen, take a shower, go to sleep, wake up, go to work.
This is why I am exhausted. The search is never ending. The days take their emotional toll, but I have to keep going. It’s who I am.
Facebook is amazing because you can get transported to this other time and world and memory. I can look through my photos and remember (mostly) exactly what was going on when certain pictures were snapped. I had to take a break from work for five minutes and I decided to look through someone’s facebook profile I hadn’t viewed in a while. Last night Corey was trying to get me excited about a documentary he watched titled “Transcendental Man.” Corey pointed to his phone and said that it has more power and processing, is one millionth the size, and hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper than the first super computer made in the 1960s. I, of course have heard that before, but while I was looking through this person’s Facebook photos, I was suddenly struck in the gut.
I scrolled through the photos and so many of them, I knew the contexts behind the little digital representation of your former life (and my former life). And scrolling, there was so much history. I am amazed that this little machine that can fit in my pocket. Amazed that it can transport us and how we are so connected. But, I’m also amazed how many emotions there are in our digital lives. Constantly breathing, living, adapting, evolving, changing. And yet, this person’s Facebook I was looking back on, our relationship is static. We moved on from each other, but there is so much evidence in both our digital (and analog) lives of the history and impact we had (and perhaps continue to have) on each other.
But, as I scrolled, I felt like I no longer knew that face. I am no longer connected to that person, except for what we used to share and what I can gather from digital mining. And that felt very strange, to realize that I don’t know you anymore. To realize that as much social networking and technology can connect us to maintain relationships, they can also remind us the negative space. The lack of communication. The lack of someone or something in your life. So I closed the tab and went back to my work. It took 30 seconds of staring at a powerful illuminated machine to realize how transformed I have become.