the road down

This is the beginning of the blog I’ll be required to keep as a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps
class of 2006. Beginning May 30, I’ll be part of an alternate-route
certification program that includes a Masters through Ole Miss in
Oxford, MS. I don’t know yet in which city or what grade I’ll be
teaching, but in a few months I’ll be an English teacher. That’s all I know now about my future.

My journey is starting now. In 2 months I’ll leave the job I’ve had for
18 years. Well, OK, not the exact same job – but at the same
place, and the job title has been the same for these past 10
those years. I’ve lived in one neighborhood or another around the same
city since 1960, except for 2 years in Atlanta and 3 in Richmond – but
those were both before I was 25. I raised my daughter here. I married
and divorced. I fell in and out of love.

Leaving Northern Virginia for the Mississippi Delta
involves so much more than just packing up the house and moving. It’s a
complete cultural change from suburban Washington D.C. to what is
probably the poorest region of the poorest state in the country.
Housing prices have increased 25% annually here. The Delta is losing
population at 2% annually. People here are driven and career-centered.
I’m longing for a slower life, but know I’ll be terrifically busy as a
first-year teacher and full-time grad student. My colleagues here are
other professionals, most of whom have been in publishing for 10 or
more years. I’ll be a part of a group of recent college graduates, many
of whom probably haven’t begun any career yet. I have no idea what my
housing will be. I know I’ll be making about 1/3 as much as I’m earning
now – yes the cost of living is less, but not that much. I don’t know
anyone there. I won’t even see my household belongings again until
August.

And now, in less than 3 months, I will not recognize one single aspect of my life.

Read that again. It takes a while to become a reality.

So my job now is to make sure that I strengthen what I can take with me
– and that’s what’s inside. It’s pretty much all I’ll have.

I’m tempted to focus on the goodbye, but I need to think about the hello, too. This is my crossroads.

UPDATE:

Circumstances are that I will be delaying the move to the Delta until 2007, but it will happen. Meanwhile, I find myself with a liminal year. While it’s not exactly what I’d expected, it’s still a crossroads. It’s the time that exists between my two lives. I don’t, however, intend for it to become simply some time I spend while I wait for a new life to begin. It will have a life of its own and will serve to help me define myself in the context of movement forward.

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