Starting over can be hard...especially when you don't want to...
|Picture it, April 2011(in my Sophia Petrillo voice) a family member of mine but me in a bad position. They stole from me while I was working as a Teacher's Assistant something I worked hard for; passing the Praxis and becoming a teacher in North Carolina was ruined. My job charged me with the offense, a misdemeanor but since they knew I didn't do it personally they just took my job. Tears streamed from my face until my head hurt. What was I going to do? Where was I going to go? I enjoyed working with children. I had decided after deciding to become a newspaper writer, a security screener at the airport, a group home manager and finally in a classroom with the chaos of children learning to socialize there was my peace, my sanctuary. After years of saying with no lies in site that I hate kids. Here I was actually enjoying their little sayings, smiling as they smiled and enjoying the spirit of school.
On a date with a young man whose I caught. He looked at me and said softly.
'You look like a teacher.' I blushed quietly thinking to myself and asking him later what does a teacher look like? My pastor, a dear lady with whom I still have communication said the same thing. I would smile and just laugh it off. Now here I was a year later taking the test for a third time, applying for schools as a lead teacher in elementary school. Preparing lessons, waking up in the morning thinking about how to reach my students, 'my kids', 'my children' and somewhere along the way I looked in the mirror and realized what everyone already knew....I am a teacher. WOW. The online Master's program followed and then I was ready! Or so I thought.
Now? Well now I was out of a job as a teacher's assistant crying my eyes out in the hallway wondering what had just happened as I left Lillington that day; what wrong mistake I made. Driving to my sister's house I laid on her couch and poured out my entire story other how our shared relative had stole my cell phone, ran up a $1600 bill and how because I thought I had just misplaced a cell phone the Superintendent of schools had thought it best to let me go. I had a bachelors degree and a few experiences but no real work history. I called that same dear pastor. I told my grandmother.
What should I do? They gave words of wisdom attempting to calm bruised feelings of rejection.
Lee County Schools, my home County wouldn't hire me. Harnett County Schools had let me go.
My dad popped into my head. We weren't that close but he had always invited me to stay with him and his wife. It was an incredulous choice but it was a viable one. One that scared me as I knew our relationship to be; mercurial at best. We ran hot and cold. Years later, my statement of truth was that we both could be assholes at best. It was and still is a compliment to us both. Our natural outgoing personalities made us battle like gladiators in the game of life vying to be the biggest the brightest. His goal? To be the star of the show. Mine? Just to be loved and to be loved by him. Both head strong my genes made me standoffish but also the type of person people were drawn to; that was my dad. While my mama made me a bit of a control freak. Every man in my life had to bend to my will These were characteristics I would realize later made me a outstanding teacher but that made me a flawed human being one at that point in my life with no children, no husband or boyfriend weighing 317 lbs. that I didn't like very much.
Upon making the phone call to my dad and his subsequent yes. I got off the phone and immediately began to bash my head into the wall mentally and emotionally. We had a rough relationship to say the least. I loved him but I didn't necessarily like him. What about his wife? Would she want his 30 plus year old daughter beginning her life again in her home? In retrospect, all of these things were issue about them and though they were valid issues the real issue was me. I loved my father but I was on the verge of an emotional atomic bomb. It felt so explosive and so cataclysmic that if it ever came to the surface it would destroy my carefully named label of 'Daddy's girl' in my own eyes. I had all these Whys in my head and on my spirit about why he hadn't been there when I was growing up, why my very existence to my mother seemed to be a burden to her and her plans. Whys about the countless occasions he had missed on my behalf, the birthdays where I had called him to remind him of my birth as his first born at 9:00 pm after waiting all day to hear his voice and the non existent Christmas' and Thanksgivings as a child. When I had entered adulthood and paid for my own ticket to come see him and bought a cell phone to speak with him. All the times before I could ask him for anything he saying 'I'm broke' and feeling the slightest twinge of my mother's rage ignite in my spirit. How dare he treat me this way???
So as much as I knew I was going to Virginia to stay with the man who still called me 'his baby'. I knew I was staying with the man who had went half on a baby with my mama in the fall of 75. I was scared beyond anything. If I wasn't lovable from far away how could he love me if I was living with him? He lived in Virginia. He had a brother who lived in Maryland and they were family.....Wait.a.Minute....He had a brother. Someone who was blood. He was kin. He knew me but wouldn't be aware of me. Someone I wouldn't feel like I had to prove myself to, someone who who would just be a distant relative. He'd give me my space.
That phone call took a lot of deep breathes those 'hee-hee breathes that pregnant women take when they are ready to give birth, painful breathes that mean something important and new would be waiting. I wrote it out at least five time so I could get it right. How should I pitch the idea? I thought. A neice he hadn't seen since she was 18 years old calling out of nowhere asking to show up on his doorstep so she could start her life over again with no employment in sight. It sounded like some bad movie.
The trilling of the phone number I had gotten from a cousin made my heart beat faster.
"Hel-lo", he said.
"Hey Uncle Donnell it's Nikki. How are you?"
"I'm good. what's going on?"
The deep breathe going down my throat I gulped like strong Mexican tequila had to let him know what I was feeling; that something like a flood of words and pleas was about to come from my throat and suddenly it poured out erupting like a damn broken exploding with broken details, ideas and pleas.
All I remember saying was I'm a hard worker and I will have a job before you know it. That I wouldn't crowd his space and that I needed a fresh start.
I remember a 30 second pause and 'ok'
'Okay?' I hadn't thought about what would happen if he said yes but in that moment everything rushed to my mind. 'I will be there Memorial Day weekend.'
A month later I stood at Union Station. My grandmother with her supple, brown skin and pepper grey hair drove me to the station my eyes filled with tears and I was on my journey watching the lush trees wondering what in the world I was doing in a new city in my 30's when my friends had children and some were on the way to having grandchildren; leaving my car; my friends; the man I had been involved with my church to begin again. Here I was starting over at 34 years old. Getting off the train I located my things and just then my Uncle Donnell's number came across the Tracphone I was paying $34.95 monthly for.
I'm in the front waiting on ya!
I'm on the way.
I walked to the front of Union Station and there he stood bald head, his sister in law waiting.
He smiled brightly and packed my suitcase in her trunk.
He gave me the biggest hug and I looked around at the Nation's Capital.
I thought to myself:
'What in the world have I gotten myself into?'