I arrived in Philly at 4am Friday morning, after a delayed red-eye from Little Rock to Chicago to my sister’s city. The cab driver told me he had a terrible night, so I gave a $10 tip and walked through my sister’s lobby, past the doorman, hit number 14 in the elevator.
The first day in Philly was quiet, waking up late in her huge bed, spending two hours trying on dresses and buying none, walking on sidewalks (a luxury not quite as prevalent in Dumas).
A lot of TFA critics talk about where we do and don’t belong as corps members. We don’t belong in classrooms with only five weeks of training, but we do belong if we would just extend our commitment to five years, or seven, or life. We don’t belong in the place of veteran teachers, don’t belong in politics after just two years in a classroom, don’t belong saying what we think in any place where a “real” teacher is because we just don’t know what we’re talking about. Our enthusiasm gets the best of us and we sound dumb. Ignorant.
When I walk around Philly, and when I sit in this cafe by myself at five pm after a long, slow day of doing nothing, I feel like I don’t belong anywhere, really.
The south is a beautiful place that makes me ache from the inside out, the east coast is glamorous with sharper edges and more people. Teaching gives me anxiety literally every Sunday night, but the profession I went to school for five years to earn a degree in makes me violently angry to think about. My family is the most precious thing that I cannot believe belongs to me, but getting geographically close to them makes me feel paralyzed, makes me feel like I haven’t the slightest idea who I am or what I’m doing. How can I reconcile baby Car Car with 25-year-old Caroline?
Exactly a week before today was my last day “working”. By working I mean volunteering with Delta ELA for First Eight Weeks kick-off all day. But it was heeled, professional-dress, TFA-jargon regardless. One full week off the TFA boat, away from deadlines (not because I don’t have more, but because I’ve turned off any sensor I have that would make me respond to them), out of Cleveland. A lingering summer week that doesn’t unwind my brain, but numbs me to most things in both worlds– south and east.
This post was wrapped up nicely when I first wrote it, before my computer and the internet freaked back at the cafe in Philly, three days ago. Now I’m in NYC, next to Alicia From the Internet, at a new cafe. Posting regardless.