Sitting in oh-so-familiar Kalamazoo kitchen at Auntie’s house. Coffee in front of me, lunch plans 38 minutes away, stacks of teaching books looming in front of me.
I drove back to The Midwest (heh) on Sunday, Brittany in the passenger seat, both of us screaming to Rihanna’s entire album. Twice. It was a glorious day of driving, a monumental improvement from the drive to Mississippi in June. I will never leave for a long distance road trip alone at 6am again. Ever.
Everyone asked about culture shock when I got to the south. “Hard to get used to, eh?” And honestly I was so ready for foreign people, food, environments, that it wasn’t a huge transition. That and I was surrounded by people just like me 24 hours a day. It was the drive back up that made me realize just how different it is in Arkansas. When I started seeing cookie-cutter urban sprawl, huge strip malls where everything looks brand new (and everything that looks 5 years old is being remodeled), when I started seeing hills again… that’s when I realized just how different my new home is.
Driving back into Kalamazoo was frighteningly familiar. Honestly. Like the past six weeks did not happen, like I was about to start a new year at Western, like I was coming home. But it’s not the case. And now that I’ve been here three days there is more and more change. I don’t mind that I’ve moved to Arkansas because the majority of my friends have left, too: New York City, Portland, Detroit… we’ve left. We’ve grown up.
Every time I get down on myself for being scared of a new job, new state, new life, I remember how incredible it is that I’ve been given it. That I have the opportunity to have a salary, to move into a house, to keep learning, to have these life-changing things given to me. They are mine because I can handle them and I’m supposed to have them. They are mine because this is the next step in my life, Ms. Lampinen the 6th grade writing teacher, and if I don’t do everything in my power to make this amazing then I am the only one to be blamed.