My Old Flame

I don't know how many of you know much about my life prior to kids--professionally, I mean. I don't write about it much here because I like to keep my personal and professional lives separate. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Let me qualify this. Theoretical professional life. I really can't say I have much of a professional life. There are other factors that keep me from writing about my past life. Since I'm anonymous and want to stay that way, I deliberately choose to be vague about certain details. Also, it's painful for me to think very much about my old passion.

Let me try to be a little less vague. I was a historian, working for a doctorate and a tenure-track position. I got the doctorate. At the very same time I had a baby. At some point in my first year of motherhood, I knew it wasn't going to work for me to have a baby and have a tenure-track position. I also knew if I took myself off the market and took a break in my career, the opportunities to jump back in years later would be slim to none. I chose a part-time job at a museum, so I could relax and focus on motherhood, and then with my second child, I decided to stop working.

I love my life. I love having time for my kids. I am not bored in any sense of the word. My kids keep me active and happy, and to keep my mind and resume active, I am reinvintng myself professionally, studying to become an archivist so I don't have to give up history altogether. No regrets at all. I live a joyful, interesting, challenging, fulfilled life.

There are moments though. I imagine it's a bit like being happily married and running into an old flame. I'll turn a channel and see a documentry that falls into my area of expertise. Or I'll see an historian that I've met, or studied under being interviewed on c-span. My heart quickens. My mind scurries around nervously. I may watch for a few minutes and then I change the channel because it hurts, and I feel a panic, a feeling of unpreparedness. Being friends with this old love won't work, my feelings signal. I move on. I choose comfort, new challenges that take me in different directions and don't hurt. I run away because it feels safer.

Last night I had dream that I was attending a conference. I was supposed to present a paper there but I had no paper written. I was sitting at the table in front of the conference room and searching through my laptop trying to cut and past things togther so I'd have something to present. I woke up and had to reassure myself that it was all a dream and there was nothing to worry about.

Here is the punchline. I'd like to become casual friends with my old flame again. I want to open my heart to it again. No, I don't want to pursue a teaching job. I've moved on, and am excited about my current direction. It's just that I don't want to run away from this old passion of mine anymore. I want to be able to bump into it in a coffeeshop and say hello and embrace it, rather than running and hiding in the toilet stall. Maybe we can even have a hearty conversation at times.

I picked this book from the shelf in my nightstand yesterday, and yes, as I am reading it, I can't look at it without my heart beating faster, but I'm going to work through it. I'm going to breathe my way back into this old love of mine again.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

What's your old flame? Are you friends with it? Do you want to be?