The landlord came over at noon and did a final walk through. We swept the floors one last time, scrubbed down the refrigerator and loaded the last box into my little car. Then I was handing over the keys and shutting the door to my old life.
A few weeks ago I told my principal that I would be stepping down from my teaching position at the end of the school year. I saw her eyes grow wide with surprise but I felt confident about my decision. It was time to move on. I wanted to leave last year but something in my gut made me stick it out for another go-around. It was important to me that I leave on my own terms; that I would not run away from the hard.
So, I stayed. And it was a good decision. Our gym was filled with the sounds of both hard work and laughter. I was also able to see a few new ideas come to life (Adventure Club or Powder Puff anyone?) and that felt really good. Taking a group of kids hiking on the Appalachian Trail was the highlight of my year. I am proud of the work I have done in ten years of teaching and coaching and while I was hoping to find a similar job in my new town, so far nothing has come of it. Sometimes the fear of the unknown takes over and I spiral into worries about finding another job, outside of education, that pays a decent amount, offers a sense of purpose and that overall feels good to me. The prospect of leaving something I have invested so much of myself into has been hard to accept but I am slowly learning to lean into the uncertainty that comes with this sort of life change. I feel very much like a work in progress but I am open to something new and I’m willing to learn. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for how humbling it would all feel, though. With such a huge part of my life and my identity now gone, what makes sense to me in this time of transition is to immerse myself in the things I love to do: take pictures, run, hike, ride my bike, read, make art and explore. It feels important to me to retain some sense of self when so many things are changing. Past experiences have taught me, too, that following my passions has always led to meeting new friends and the opening of new worlds. So, that’s my plan, roughshod and thin as it may be.
Sitting here this morning, though, in my new home with a warm cup coffee and two pups at my feet I feel open and excited about the possibilities. It’s my first bit of writing since leaving my little kitchen table in Frederick and the view is quite different. I’m in West Asheville, y’all! My car is in the yard and it looks like a low-rider with all the stuff piled up in the back. The neighbors next door have a little camper and a few kayaks that I can see from the window. Good daily reminders, I think, to get out and adventure. It’s a drastic change in point of view from the little alley I called home for the last year or so but I like what I see.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made my last few weeks in Frederick feel really special. It was a whirlwind of activities, meals and goodbye-for-now’s. I have an incredible support network and I'll probably need to lean on you all in some sort of way in the coming months as things continue to shift and change. But in addition to my family and friends, there is someone else in my life that I would like to introduce you to. Her name is Caroline and she is my person; the one who sees me and knows me and shows up for me every single day, in a way that I have not experienced before in this life. She has not wavered in her love for me (nor I for her) and is as steady and as thoughtful and caring as they come. She flew to Maryland to help me pack, road tripped south along the coast with me AND my emotions, and then held my hand as we stepped across the threshold into my (our) new home. I saw with fresh eyes, the rooms that have slowly become familiar to me and that I would now call my own. I had finally arrived and all that I was leaving behind felt more than worth it because there was no plane to catch, no hard goodbye in an airport, no more long-distance relationship. We are finally doing this life together! This feels important for me to share for several reasons but mostly because this relationship is something worth celebrating.
So that’s what I’m up to these days! I hope you’ll join us on this next adventure. I imagine it will take a little time to settle in but already it's starting to feel like home. Keep me in mind if you're looking for a photographer. My doors are open for business (Authentic Asheville) and I'm still willing to travel for special events like weddings and engagements. In the meantime, if you’re heading to or through Asheville, please look us up. As always, you’ll have a place to stay.
Love to you all,