The past four years I have been too tired to do anything except find the boxes where we store ornaments, tinsel, wrapping paper, lights, and decorations. Any actual decorating was done by Darrin and the kids. Last year Adam decided to rearrange my storage area, so finding anything was an adventure. I found the bare necessities for Christmas and left everything else hidden. I think this year I will dig through his stacks of whatever-we-are-storing-but-don't-really-need until I find all four (or six) boxes of Christmas. Perhaps it's time to rid myself of some of it, but the rest will be displayed for the month of December.
Darrin and I had a long talk yesterday. He's concerned because I am still a shell. There are emerging traits of what make me Samantha, but they come and go, and I seem jaded about everything. Darrin mentioned how I used to love talking on the phone with friends, visiting them, spending time with my kids. He talked about how I would get so excited about a sunset that I would prod and nag until he finally came upstairs to watch it with me. He remembers that I used to giggle all the time, that when I walked in a room everyone noticed because I couldn't stop smiling. He said, "Do you remember when you would go to Walmart--not because you needed anything, but just because you wanted to see how many people would smile back at you?"
Yes. I remember. I remember feeling anticipation and excitement and pure joy. But those aren't things you can just make happen. They're sort of spontaneous and unpredictable.
Darrin says I'm still tired. I've not recovered. I suppose he's right, but recuperation seems to be more work than staying tired--which makes no sense at all.
I taught my last class of the semester on Thursday. This was a lovely group of students. The majority of them worked very hard, but more than that, they were engaged and participating in class. Many of them would mention that they were learning things, that they loved my class--two students have changed their majors and will be pursuing pedagogy degrees because of the things they discovered abut themselves during my class. It's kind of a teacher's dream to be able to help a student find where he or she excels. I feel a tiny bit of delight about this--but three years ago I would have been ecstatic. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to stop talking about it. I'd be energized and happy to write the necessary recommendations as those students applied to different programs, and I'd probably follow up with them.
One student needed my help to make some recordings for her audition. I coached her, and rehearsed with her, and stayed seven hours until the recordings were complete. She had done well and she knew it. Exultantly, she turned to me and thanked me for my help. She wanted a hug. I knew this. I congratulated her, smiled my best, and walked away without hugging. I was just too tired. Hugging felt like a huge effort I was unable to make.
I played a short recital on Friday--arrangements of Christmas music I refer to as "trash with flash". But even though I disparage the music, I've always loved it--loved playing it. My millions of years of practice and training slipped into place and I performed very well. An audience member told me afterward that she loves hearing me play; that this particular recital of beloved Christmas music brought tears to her eyes. I thanked her, but I felt a bit of resentment. It's been a long time since I've felt moved by music.
And so I am doing a Christmas experiment. I don't k now if I'll be able to finish, because the time is growing short, but I am learning a piece I heard many years ago; one whose beauty left me breathless. I'm aware that what I connect with is usually not what others would find beautiful, but should the piece be finished on time, it will be my gift to some of my loved ones. I'm also aware that they would probably rather have something tangible, but this will never break, or be the wrong color, or one day be used up and discarded. It might disappear, depending on the interest and memory of the recipient, but that's up to him or her.
I am doing this because I need to value who I am and what I can do. I have begun to play by rote, because it is easy. I need to remember that I was given a gift, one I can share, and no one in the world can play as I do, because they are not me.
For Darrin, for my children, for everyone who cares about me--but mostly for me--I am going to rediscover what makes me amazing. And I'm going to share it. It's time to recover Samantha.