Revisiting the Past...and Leaving it There

Midway through my penultimate business trip of 2011 (ONLY ONE MORE WEEK OF TRAVEL! YAY!) I gave a talk at my grad school. It's a school. In Connecticut. Ok, it's Yale. Now normally I don't give details about myself away like that, but I bring it up because Yale is in the midst of a huge investigation for the way that they handle (or in many cases don't handle) sexual harassment on campus. And I bring up the investigation because I was someone whom the system failed. I won't go into details because it isn't important. But, it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life--not only the incident itself, but the process of handling it officially through the school.

I swear to God, my grad school had more corners than any other building ever created. You can't walk for more than a few steps before having to turn a corner. And when you're trying to avoid certain people, it's incredibly anxiety-provoking to have to turn a dozen corners to get from point A to point B. It got to be so bad that eventually I left school for a month before returning to finish my final semester. And I made my presence on campus as minimal as possible. For someone who'd been active in student life, it was a blow to my sense of self to disengage so abruptly.

Since moving away from Connecticut, I have stepped onto campus twice. The first was for my friend L's wedding, which was in the summertime when the school is mostly empty. The second was last week. I'd done a talk at Drew Seminary in New Jersey and was staying with an old friend in Connecticut before leaving for Ohio for another talk. I'd had one of my colleagues contact me about doing a talk, and I figured, what could it hurt? It's another thing for me to report back to our funder, and since I was already going to be in town, it was potentially a good use of what would otherwise have been down time.

I imagined what it would be like to run into my perpetrator. Or the people on the committee who heard every word about the incident. Or anyone who would trigger that anxiety in me. The turnover in grad school is so fast, I hardly recognized a face. It felt weird, to be a stranger in a place I'd spent three long, difficult years. I passed by the hall of class photographs, finding my picture. My eyes looked dead. In fact, a lot of the photos from those years are like that.

I must've been surrounded by some kind of grace that day because I was spared any of these potentially awkward run-ins. It helped me to focus on why I was there--to talk with students about what's next for them, how they can do great things in the world to help others, to encourage them that life post-Yale can be amazing. I met with a few old friends still in the area, and much to my surprise had a really great day. Who would've thought?

Walking out of the school, I felt a huge sense of relief. I'd been back, I'd done my thing, and I was ok. I'm stronger now than I was then. And I'm thankful to be leaving that place behind...again.

Mom is taking the leap!

Do you all remember when I told you how my mom had reconnected with her high school boyfriend? She acted like it was no big thing, but then over time she revealed that they were talking every single day on the phone. And that he wanted to meet her.

I was really afraid she wasn't going to go for it. She was so hurt by her divorce from my dad. All I want for her is to be happy, in whatever form is best for her. But, I hated the idea of her being alone for her golden years.

So, she and Mr. High School Boyfriend are meeting next weekend! I'm trying to play it totally cool because I don't want her to wig out. But inside I am cheering like crazy! Who knows what will come of this, but the fact that my mom is going for it is totally amazing.

Here's to potential love at the most unexpected times!

Friend Dating

You know what's just as challenging to find as a man you want to have babies with? Finding a friend that will put up with you gushing about him.

Yep, I'm ISO of some NC friends. And that means awkward friend dates. On Wednesday night I met up with a cool woman I'd emailed with about work stuff. Unlike my romantic dating life, I actually got to be the one asking out, and I was super happy when she agreed. Yay, potential friend!

The time was fine, although at one point I was wondering when our food was going to show up. I felt like I carried a lot of the conversation, asking questions and filling in what I perceived to be awkward silences. (I blame that on being extraordinarily extroverted.) And, I ate all of the food on my plate, not because I wanted it but because it was something to do.

I'm probably making this sound a lot more painful than it was. We had a good time and we have a lot in common. I think there will be future friend dates. But, after only two "dates," we don't really know each other. And no matter how much I want to have a close friend here in NC, she and I weren't going to go back to her place and watch YouTube videos together like Katie and I used to do.

Sigh. Living in a new place is tough. It's difficult for me to remember what it felt like when I moved to DC. I'm sure I felt similarly. But, when I think about DC, what I remember are the friends I had at the end of my time there, not the loneliness I felt at the beginning.

Just like back when I was single my brain used to say over and over, "You're never going to meet a man. You're never going to get married," my brain is now telling me, "You're never going to have friends in NC." Not really helpful to have bullshit like that swirling around in my head. So, I've got to keep putting myself out there, going out on friend dates, and believe that somewhere out there will be a friend that'll I really click with.