Nerves

As of late I often scrunch my nose up at compositions that start with quotes set in italics.  Why would you start with words other than your own?  I do understand the intention behind it.  That you are setting up a theme or frame for where you want your story to go.  It’s like in a horror film when they build tension with foreshadowing.  And sometimes it works, especially when an author says something that is in your heart better than you could.  So here it is:

If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve—

EMILY DICKINSON

Seriously though, what could get you more riled up to fight than that?  And how true it is.  The very best things I’ve done were accomplished when I was scared but did it anyways.  When I didn’t want to be chicken shit.

I’ve just undergone a major life change by moving to a new city.  There is some unfinished business in Toronto mainly tied to going back to defend my dissertation but other than that the field is wide open.  We’ve uprooted ourselves for my husband’s work but also to grow up a little.  It’s our job to slowly but surely build up our world and craft new meanings in a place where the surroundings are strange.  We’re in the phase when we’re still trying to orient ourselves, gain some stability and are desperately searching for landmarks.  This is all helped by how incredibly nice people in MA generally are.  When we visited a few months ago to secure housing and set the scene for what was to come we thought that we were in the phase when everything is good.  Surely because we were speaking to people in the service or hotel industry, their job is to make everyone comfortable.  But now, after a few days of engaging with different people from all walks of life, Jesus Christ, they are still so considerate.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this place produced the Kennedy family and Matt Damon.  No wonder Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg are obsessed and continue to write and direct films about this place.  They are polite, say their “excuse me”s and generally have an openness to want to chat or meet new people.  I’m looking forward to connecting with a book club, mommy group or fundraising society to further my network.  I feel like there is potential for them to be positive experiences.

Now I write all of this a couple of days in when there is clarity and calm.  After everything from the flight, airport and various administrative errands have gone more or less smoothly.  Knock on wood.  But to be honest on my last night in Toronto, I was in the fetal position with tears in my eyes, telling my husband I was scared.  And God I was embarrassed for behaving this way because I usually see it as being weak.  But it’s part of human nature to be sad to leave loved ones and a place that is so familiar and good.  Like anything worth having though, you jump right in and keep on working through the pain.  Well that’s my philosophy these days anyways.  Because what choice do we have?  My husband is a Professor and secured this position before graduating.  This is a tenure-track position and it has the potential of being one for life.  He’s also lucky that they want him enough to sponsor him to work in the United States, that he had the means to complete those degrees that gave him the credentials and that his skill sets are specialized enough.  He understands his privilege.  So you go where the job is and you have to find your footing.  I just feel blessed that it’s looking like a place that we’d like to be.

If I’m honest though I can’t count on being completely rooted.  Although the area we live in is beautiful, affluent and safe, I miss the city already.  I miss the noise, the people, the pollution and being able to walk around the corner to find something to do.  But my home is out there, I’ll just have a couple of rest stops along the way.  And thankfully, the people and the food are good.  The ocean is beautiful.  You enjoy the upswings with the knowledge of the downs right?  If that’s the case, it’s all good.

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