Sunday, September 06, 2020

Boundaries in the age of COVID, Sept 2020

I made a decision today, one that ripped the front of my chest off yet again: I decided to retire from teaching except within Canada's boundary. 
I methodically contacted all the workshop organizers in Europe to let them know I would not be coming in 2021. 
I intend to keep the commitment to fulfill workshops that have been scheduled here in Canada. 
For one more year at least. Here's the list

Gad this one hurt... 

My mind flew back to the early 70's, when my good friend Gayle and I made plans to travel in Europe together. We were going to meet up in Greece. It never happened because I never went. I had saved up the princely sum of about a thousand dollars, which back in the day went a looooooong way; instead of spending it traveling, I decided to go back to university instead. 

I had three workshops lined up in the spring, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta. 
A couple in the fall, Italy and Austria. 

Some part of my brain, maybe the part that still thinks I'm in my twenties, must have thought it would be a good idea to plan to go next year, I guess; workshops had all been canceled for 2020 due to travel restrictions that COVID imposed, and 2021 seemed so far away. Now in September, it doesn't seem far away at all. 

So the more realistic part of my brain that keeps up with reality and doesn't let itself be caught up in fantasy or yearnings or time warp looked at the situation cooly:

1. the fact that travel is even more cumbersome than it was last year, what with COVID precautions

2. the fact that travel is BOUND to be more expensive, therefore the workshops were possibly more likely to be canceled anyway, by the hosts, who have to at least cover costs

3. the fact that I'm not (definitely NOT) getting younger, and after sitting around for the past 6 months, feeling quite a lot rustier

4. the fact that moving my mother (age 96) to assisted living this past month turned out to be a lot more work, not less. More running around, not less. More conveying of mail, trips to the bank, trips to the lawyer, all sorts of bureaucratic bits and bobs, not to mention emptying of a very jam-packed condo all throughout the past three weeks and allocation of items under the strict eye of my younger sister who was very organized and vigorous and has very much a zero-landfill disposition these days.
(She had me save glass jars for her, FFS. Fking glass jars.) 
(I said I would. They are still sitting in my car.)
I'm exhausted. Physically and emotionally. 

So, with all that going on, the reality part of my brain kicked me out of my stupor, out of that sense of unreality that all the societal changes that COVID have wrought upon the world and everyone in it. 
It said to me, Diane, are you fking kidding yourself? You really think you are up for yet more flying around Europe sleep-deprived, fueled by adrenalin, coffee, and whatever is the local beer? And standing up teaching for four days straight? And trying to keep up with youngsters eager to show you the local tourist sites on top of all that? You know how much your feet hurt in the past and how long it took to recover from sleeping sitting up on planes and how many days it took for the swelling in your ankles to go away after you got home, and how it was a lot harder to recover if you were doing more than just one workshop per trip, and how you had three (count'em, 3!!!) booked all in a row, you crazy woman, and how your Eurocentric side thought for a hot second that it wouldn't be able to exist or forgive itself if it passed up an opportunity to see Greece finally, not to mention Malta and Cyprus... Get real Diane. You will be 70 years old and that's too old for any more shit like this. Are you trying to kill us off early or something? Get.

So, I did. 
I obeyed the voice within that told me to let go of yet more of my professional existence. 
It sort of feels like I imagine it must feel after having divorced to decide what to do about the kids. All the lingering bits of an old life that must be carried forward into a new existence until they are grown and can fend for themselves. 
Even though it's the rational thing to do, retire from teaching overseas, it still feels like the front of my chest has been removed.
Without anesthetic.
It must be that twenty-something part of me who still lingers somewhere in me, making me feel that. 
I'm learning that who one is is mostly an accumulation of selves you have been and that constant decluttering is not just about physical existence, it's also about psychosocial existence. 

I still need that part 20-something part of myself. She is the more energetic part of me, still full of possibilities. I don't want to kill her off, but we will have to reorganize our relationship somehow, because the I that I am now is here, now, and I really do not like feeling all raw on the front of my body, and she will have to learn to respect me as her future self, getting riper all the time.