I’m back at work this week, after that fall break last week.
I have to admit that I surprised myself with a certain amount of dread about coming back. I was surprised because I love this job, this university – I tend to have a good time here. I suppose, though, that it was because I had a quiet, productive week at home, and that put me in touch with what it feels like to have space of my own, and home-cooked food, and relationships (with people other than students) – all things that are in short supply in Uni City. I also desperately missed Mr. K before I even left, and all day yesterday, my first day back. I missed him on a very visceral level – the feel of him. It was hard, too, to watch him panic as I left. (Boxers naturally look sad because of their droopy cheeks, it’s true – but there is no question that Mr. K was feeling especially down yesterday as he watched me get ready to leave after ten lovely days together.)
Returning to my fourth-year seminar last night, though, wove me back into this life. I walked in there exhausted and relatively unmotivated, and left energized and happy. And today I’ve had another very productive day, what with finishing up and sending off that thing I was working on last week, and doing up a frightfully complex job application, and looking into some research travel (my book project involves work in Paris archives and museums…fun but daunting – expensive!). I feel back into this world, and I like it.
My Chair also reminds me how much I like it here. I’ve mentioned before how excellent she is at her job – she falls into the category of senior scholars I deeply admire, for various reasons. I try to watch and learn from what she does that makes me feel so good - things that are also deeply appreciated by many, many others, judging by people’s loving responses to her, the extent to which they praise her if I mention her name. She is unfailingly genuine and generous with her time and her spirit, and with her ideas. Her commitment to the program is deep and, I think, emotional, but she is pragmatic; she gets things done. The amazing thing is that she manages to make this little department, our little corner of this campus, feel like something approximating a real community.
Today we chatted a lot – about life and work. And then, as she was leaving to go and carve her pumpkin, she spontaneously asked me if I wanted to come over for pizza and Halloween treat-dispensing this evening. This will give me a chance, she said, to meet her partner and her dog.
Of course I’m delighted to be asked, and I’m about to head over to her place…I love the energy in the air on Halloween nights, the people in the street. I miss handing out candy – GF and I live on a major street and no kids come by, sadly.
But I’m also ever so slightly wary. Not of my Chair – she’s lovely, obviously. I’m wary of my own capacity for attachment. Let’s face it, as hard as I’ve been trying to remain nonchalant about what I’m doing here ,I’m already deeply attached to this place that I have no future guarantees with. Christ, I was attached before I came here, what with it being my dream job and all! I would like more than anything in the world to get the tenure-track job they’re on the verge of posting, but the chances of that are slim to middling, because of the combination of fields they need to hire in. I’ve spent the fall trying to balance the need to protect myself emotionally, with my immediate and visceral love for my students and for some of the things that go on here. I’ve told myself it’s a good thing that I’m not really integrating into the community terribly much for that reason. But here I go, integrating.