As I unfolded the hood of my jacket this morning I thought about Simone de Beauvoir. I had begun reading The Second Sex while I was sick, and it made me conscious of my internal communications in a way I haven’t been before. I wondered what I would look like if I had been more self-sustaining. I wondered what my life would have been if I hadn’t let petty racism and sexism chase me out of academe, but as it was there was too much scar tissue for me to feel much of anything by the time I attempted that grad program. Truthfully, now that I have some distance the academy looks too tumultuous with a new idea, a new set of jargon, and accompanying new codes appearing every day while the razor-sharp skeletal remains that lurk are just the right height to trip up a short-legged woman of color like me.
I have always been afraid of disappointing others–first my parents and ever-present biological mother, then teachers, then bosses. I know that office work is often distained, but I’m rather fine with it. At least, I am with this office and this work for this time. I had to let go of feeling like a waste of potential, which was the worst unintended gift I received from my collegiate experience. I had so much potential I began to fear crossing the street; an exchange with a car driving too fast could end all that and then who would want me?
But lately it’s as if something that has always been inside of me, nearly dried up from years of careful neglect, has become loose. I can feel it rattling around in my chest now that I reside in this evergreen state so far from what haunted me. Sometimes it fills me with dissatisfaction. Sometimes it tells me to wait. Sometimes it inverts old fears of countless decisions to be made until they become joyful possibilities. And this time I’m nurturing it as a gift.