February 15, 2021
I’ve been withholding my lonely thoughts again.
Keeping them in, hidden from page and pen.
It’s just that I’m afraid if I write them down,
they manifest further, take form and control.
I need to cry but I’m betting I won’t.
I clench my jaw instead
I can’t make it stop now,
so I wear mouth guards to bed.
My dog, as dogs do,
barked at the sound of groceries being delivered.
I had to step out and speak to them for a moment.
Finn heard voices and picked up his toy in excitement,
not guarding the door but preparing to greet.
So, my dog is lonely too, that hurts.
He’s always lays by the door and I wonder if he’s waiting to go home.
We’ve been here 6 months now,
but I think people are home to dogs.
He misses people too.
He misses home like I do.
When I go into a Walgreens I pretend I’m in Albertville or Alabaster.
I browse slowly and avoid the large windows, which would ruin my illusion.
There are no palm trees in North Alabama.
Once, when I was driving in the early morning,
a thick cluster of dark clouds blanketed the horizon.
They looked like distant mountains and I felt peace and immediately grief.
I wish I were driving through mountains,
but I’m only mere feet above sea level and the lack of altitude brings me down.
A lot of things bring me down here,
like how strangers aren’t quite as friendly
and I can’t find the motivation or courage to explore.
If I got to know this town, this land,
Could I make myself at home?
Longing for connection, but everyone I know is so far away
and making friends in a pandemic is nearly impossible.
So I’m getting to know people I already know, better,
witnessing their suffering and growth.
Oh, how the pandemic has changed us all.
If I had friends here,
Could I make myself at home?
It’s snowing back home but here it’s 75 degrees. I say I don’t like the cold so I shouldn’t complain, but snow days are exciting and I miss the mountainous terrain. Some kid in a truck gave me the middle finger in Middleburg. His mother grinning as she drove.
My bumper stickers make me stick out like a sore thumb. If this had happened a year ago I would have flashed a smart smirk.
But I was already sad thinking of how Pawpaw said I always close my left eye when the sun’s too bright. Always have, he recalls.
So I look at the boy with the birdie two years almost welling, expressionless, then turn my gaze back to the road.
My Aunt Teresa has been texting me. She’s my late Mawmaw’s younger sister and near spitting image. Mawmaw gave her that name, too. Teresa, such a sweet soul. My favorite family gathering guest, always arriving fashionably late.
She tells me grandmotherly things like to look out for bad weather and things about our large extended family. She told me that one of my second cousins lives in Austin, Texas and works as a head nurse and that maybe I could message him if I’d be interested in working out there. But I don’t because Texas is even further from home than Florida. And I’m already so homesick I can’t eat right. Not to mention, it’s a frozen disaster there and their senator fled to Cancun. Typical, terrible, Ted Cruz move.
Grief sinks in.
I called my Pawpaw and his voice feels like a warm blanket, even though I don’t need one in this weather.
I break down and cry when I tell him how much I miss him. I swallow a sob as I wait for the “don’t cry, baby,” but he doesn’t say it this time and I’m thankful. He was supposed to get his second COVID-19 vaccine today, but the health department and probably everything else in town was closed, because of icy roads. Folks can’t drive in snow in Alabama.
Folks can’t drive in Florida, period. I keep thinking if I die down here it’ll be at the hands of a Florida driver and not the virus despite the fact that I work 35 hours a week seeing 80 kids. Most wear masks but not the little ones. I wish I could take mine off for the little ones. Seeing words spoken is important for language development, this generation will have to go without the visual input. It’s sad and different, but I do the best I can.
Between showing up for my students, myself, my boyfriend and pets, and missing home and friends, I’m doing the best I can.
Thank you for reading to the end and witnessing my heavy feelings. While I miss my home state, friends, and family immensely, I know that I am in the right place, doing the inner and outer work that I’m meant to be doing. I get to be a fun and safe place for the 80 incredible kids I provide speech and language services to. Writing is my way of processing emotions and shifting perspective when challenging situations seem to be getting the best of me. In publishing this personal piece, I am speaking my truth even when I am not sure that it will help anyone by reading it. I tend to hold in my darker thoughts, at least until I can turn them into a more positive perspective towards the end. And maybe that’s what this is. Perhaps the message is to speak your truth even when it’s heavy on your heart and you’re not sure that it will benefit anyone besides yourself.
May you be well. May you be happy. May you be blessed.