I’ve been a nomad for the last ten years. This has taught me several things, including how to exist successfully in the middle and on the margins. This ability is a double-edged sword; when you get used to living a transitory life, you find that there’s no place for you in the world except the ones you make for yourself. After much blood, sweat, and tears in the name of someplace to call home, I’ve discovered that for me, it’s not a place. For me, home is in the presence of that which I love. In a way, this means I’m never away from home—in spite or because of all the things I’ve been through in my rough, winding life, I have such a love for the world that no one pleasure can equal it and no hardship can diminish it.
I have had many teachers along the way to help me learn this lesson. From my Godchildren I have learned gentleness and patience that have become integral to my aspirations. From my sister and brother-in-law, I have learned steadfastness, loyalty, and perseverance. We found each other in this corner of the world and made bonds that were stronger than blood when our own blood would not suffice.
While my sister, brother-in-law, and I are all poor as dirt together, we are none of us dumb. As a matter of fact, we’re all really smart. We learn from each other, even though it’s not exactly what you’d consider academic. We shared lessons like how to survive three weeks without any running water in the dead of winter with a diaper-aged toddler in the house. Or how to re-plumb the house once the water pipes thawed and burst. Or how to laugh at the leaks in the roof when it rained and mend the holes in our socks so we could afford to buy the kids new ones.
Learning survival made me hungry for something beyond the ability to successfully exist. When I went back to school, it was with a vengeance. In the space of my first year, I went from being the kid who sat in the back and carved up the desks in high school to the one the librarian would politely shoo out the door at five to midnight. I had the drive to do better, for myself and family, but in reality, what keeps me on the path I’m walking now is an absolute, intoxicating addiction to studying. I could care less about the credentials that come with an education (although I’m sure I’ll care more when they put me in a position to better provide for me and mine.) I study to learn.
I’m so obsessively in love with learning that I’ve decided I’d like to direct a writing center like the one I work in—my job is comprised of talking to people about the ideas they have and how they got there, what they like and dislike about their work so far, and the direction they want to take their work in Every session I take is a lesson for me as much as for my classmates—if not more. Besides our collaborative efforts, I’m also studying what works and what doesn’t in terms of how people learn versus how we teach. My boss is a teacher, and she does a pretty bang-up job of running the place. Besides training all of us, she puts an enormous effort into keeping up with the constant changes in how we do things. She runs our weekly meetings are like a discussion seminar, and she’s considerate enough of our learning styles and personalities that NOTHING I’ve said or done in the three years I’ve worked there has gotten me fired.
Balancing family and school is hard for anyone, but as I’m hoping to discover from my own liminal passage, all bridges span opposite banks. We cross boundaries by navigating the Spaces Between.