Like "the most interesting man in the world" meme, I don't always write Christmas letters, but when I do, I try to keep them real. I received my cousin's today, full of trips and accomplishments. Hell, that's what Facebook is for, isn't it? For us all to lie to each other? Here's my real Christmas letter.
This year was ridiculous.
I yanked Fiona out of school in the third week of January and then thought about what to do next. I didn't have a job, since her school had shut every last door in my face. I didn't have any idea what to do next. So I got certified in math and put in my application wherever I could. And then thought about whether I could homeschool my 6th grader. In the end she rejected the idea and the school we'd been looking at for 7th grade already said, "Sure, she can come! Bring her Monday!"
So she started and Daisy joined her in August. But before we got there, I subbed in a rough county district kind of because I knew I could and wanted to prove it. It was hard work. Hard lonely work. Then finally a door opened. I got a longterm gig about a half hour away. I had long commutes listening to the Grateful Dead. My classroom was at the end of a long hallway surrounded by offices. I never got to know another teacher by her first name. The principal never dropped in. It was a strange thing. But during my time there, I interviewed at a bunch of schools and after one interview, I called Jake and said, "If the principal there offers it to me, I'm going to take it."
She did, and I did. I spent the summer in denial about full time teaching, though, and what helped most of all was getting in touch with Troy again after a long time and having him move into my house at the beginning of July. What an incredibly reckless and edgy thing to do. I remember a girl scout mom, who could have wound up being a friend except for all the reasons why she couldn't, anyway, she turned to me on one trip after I'd made a casual rock/paper/scissors agreement with her and said, "I bet you're a risk taker."
I am, and thank God for Jake because between him and me and Troy, we eventually made it work. July was like a raft in the ocean, and August was like the raft broke up underneath us, but by the time I had a week at school under my belt, everybody was doing what we should. Disagreements and growing pains faded into the background and we became a family.
And then he left to go work on a bridge in Kansas and I worked hard to downshift, which is never easy for me to do, although I appreciated the sleep I got. This summer was a lot of early mornings and late nights.
He's back now, in his own apartment, with his own struggles and overwhelming personal problems. At first he tried to go it alone, but this week he's been at my house for dinner three times. He could come every night, frankly. He has some huge decisions and scary things he has to do in the next 6 months. We haven't seen the last of him.
School started and it's been hard for me to adjust. It's been hard for Daisy to adjust. Fiona, I think, is just putting in time until high school. In a lot of ways, pulling them from the other school was the best thing, but in a lot of other ways, the worst thing. I like where they are. Daisy is starting to. Fiona is...treating it like her job.
And Billy went to his adorable early childhood center run by nuns where he is cherished and celebrated and loves going every day.
We have four cats still. We kept the stray that showed up this time last year. She is fat and sassy.
I have two tattoos. They say "Let them be." and "It's fine." Because I should and it is.
The soundtrack this year was Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan. Maybe I'll branch out into something from the 80s next year. I doubt it. Jerry Garcia and Van speak the language of my heart.
So my marriage is awesome, really really awesome, having been tested by having a grown man live in the next room for 10 weeks. Jake and I are really awesome. I am liking my face more and more. I love my hair. I wear heels and even a little makeup. I've lost some weight and dropped a jeans size this fall.
But I have dreams of searching through strange houses looking for something I can't identify. I have nightmares about drowning in the ocean. There is much still left to do.
But I'm hustling to get it done.