Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Self-indulgent summertime retrospective

I realize I've been a crap blogger these past few weeks, but there's been a lot of stuff going on, both in my life and in my head. Regrettably, most of it isn't worth blogging about--and although I'd be perfectly content not to be experiencing it, it seems a courtesy to save all y'all from hearing about it.

Every August I find myself torn between freaking out because the school year is about to begin, and I haven't gotten nearly enough done--and absolutely dying for the school year to begin, because I'm so sick of summer and all that unstructured time. That tension is still present this year, but all in all I think I've NEVER been as eager to return to the classroom as I am right now. It's not that I'm truly prepared for the academic year (although I'm genuinely excited about two of my three classes this semester), and it's not that I have a great sense of satisfaction about what I've accomplished over the summer (because, um, I don't). It's just that I think I'd jump off a fucking cliff if I had a single additional week of summer to try to fill.

Has it been a bad summer? Well, yes. But it could certainly have been worse. Has it been a good summer? That seems like a stupid question to ask, but many things about the summer have been good, even surprisingly good, and my ambition is to be able to look back on the past three and a half months as having been largely positive and productive, even if disagreeable on a near-daily basis.

For one thing, over the course of the summer I think I've learned more about myself than I have during any other comparable period of time; frankly, I'm inclined to think I've grown and changed as much in the not-quite-four-months since my breakup as I did in the entire six years I spent in that relationship--and that's in no way a dismissal of the value of the latter. It's nice to discover how much more one is capable of than one would have believed. . . and how much better, more dedicated, and more generous a person one is. (It would be even nicer if those attributes or behaviors were immediately recognized and rewarded, but I suppose such commodities hold their value.)

I've also been reminded of what amazing friends I have, and having the opportunity to reconnect with so many of them, so many times, and in such depth, has been a profoundly and consistently wonderful experience. After my conference last week I spent the weekend in the city that is now home to a ridiculous number of my college friends, and all I can say is, goddamn. What fabulous, insightful people they all are. My newer friends, too, are pretty awesome--in the past 24 hours I've unexpectedly started crying in front of two different people, first a young male colleague and then Evey, and both reacted in ways that were straightforward, sympathetic, and helpful, rather than awkward, anxious, or mortifying.

For years and years, through my teens and most of my twenties, I don't think I believed that I could be truly understood, or known, for whatever it was that I was--first known, I guess, and then loved. So if in some ways this summer has seemed to be a confirmation of that deep (and, let's be honest, totally narcissistic) fear, in other ways it's been exactly the opposite.

And hell. I did some fun travelling. I got at least a certain amount of work done. I read some books, made some new professional acquaintances, and heard some great gossip.

And of course, winter break is only 3.5 months away.

9 comments:

adjunct whore said...

yes, i feel the same way about summer in general and this summer in particular. and i should have followed your lead by not trying to blog stuff that is basically unbloggable and should have remained so.

i'm glad that you found some deep and formally unknown reserves in yourself. this makes it worthwhile. work is good, though, and i'm ready too.

miss d said...

I miss you. Remember how we felt watching the ending of Nights of Cabiria? Happy-sad. That's how I have been feeling generally these days. Maybe it's this damn weather getting me down, or the schizo nature of almost-fall, but I think there's something good around the corner for you.

medieval woman said...

Wow, Flavia - what an amazing post - so much said in such a small space! I'm glad that this summer has made you realize some good things - about yourself and your friends. I'm sorry it's sucked daily, but it sounds like there's been some sweet tucked into that bitter as well. I hope your school year can suck some of that angst away and that your classes are as exciting as you hope!

I hope we both end up at a conference together soon - any plans in the near future? Such fun to meet up again...

Hilaire said...

A lovely post...it makes me happy to read about people *growing*, at this stage in our lives. It's hopeful.

Nabil said...

The fear that no one will understand or know you - what exactly makes that narcissistic?

Flavia said...

Nabil: that's a reasonable question, but I guess I mean that the presumption that one is so unique and so complicated that no one else could ever possibly understand one is actually a kind of vanity, or at least is the result of being rather self-absorbed--more obsessed with someone else liking and understanding YOU than with really reaching out and making an effort to understand and connect with that other person.

I don't mean to criticize anyone else who feels or has ever felt this way, and there may be very good reasons for some people to think this, based upon traumatic past experience. But in my own case, I'm inclined to think that it was (is?) kinda adolescent.

Evey said...

just a note that flavia, you are gifted in that you are an attractive cryer. by contrast, i look like a sodden roll of toilet paper when i cry. just add that to your list of things to appreciate.

Flavia said...

Dude, Evey, you're sweet, but what you (and my colleague) saw really falls into the category of "getting a little emotional." When I'm full on crying? It's all puffiness and redness and snot. Which, I don't know: I've never considered awesomely attractive.

Scrivener said...

Sounds like you and I have had fairly similar summers in a lot of ways. I've definitely learned a helluva lot about myself these last few months, and it's been painful and terrible and terrifying and liberating. My best wishes to you.