Thursday, October 26, 2017

Constant New Starts (Courtney McKinney-Whitaker)



This has been a surprisingly difficult post to write.

I feel like I do nothing but start over, so you'd think I'd have something profound to say about it, but alas.

Maybe by the end of this post I will have figured something out.

My parents have been married for 40 years and live in their third house. My husband and I have been married for 11 and live in our fourth. I am also on my fourth state.

In the 13 years since I graduated from college, I have gone to grad school, been a youth services librarian, gone to grad school again, been a community college English instructor/writing coach/librarian, done work-for-hire curriculum writing almost full time, and been a freelance writer while also being a work-at-home-mom (which is terrible because you don't fit in with anyone).

I'm probably leaving something out.

Part of this is my own fault. My Scots-Irish ancestors exhausted any wanderlust they ever had three hundred years ago in the foothills of South Carolina. By the time I was 5, I was heartily sick of hearing about how Upstate South Carolina was the best place to live ever. ("How do you know if you never go anywhere else and if no one you know has ever been anywhere else?" was my very valid question.) I nevereverevereverever wanted to live in one place my whole life. (One thing that's the same about people everywhere: they all think where they live is great and can't wait for you to think so to. And they will ask you about it, awkwardly, at every possible opportunity and will wait for you to fall all over yourself with gratitude and wonder at the amazingness of their particular spot. My position on most places: they are fine. Most places are fine.) And a 40-year career with one company was also not on my list of life goals.

My mom says, "Courtney always has a plan. It changes hourly, but she always has a plan."

And now I am heartily jealous of people who stay put and are well into steady careers. It looks so easy, from the outside looking in. Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like. They probably think the same thing about me.

Starting over is EXHAUSTING. And yet....if it weren't for the new starts, I wouldn't have gotten to do some amazing things, make some amazing friends, and live in--okay, truthfully, some very average places.

I think all these new starts have inspired me to fix something if it's not working, to not just accept the status quo. Once upon a time, I thought I was just a novelist. Now I know I'm a poet and an essayist and a nonfiction writer, too.





Others have said that what we're really talking about this month is change. Change is hard, and tiring, and awful. And it's also usually worth it.


10 comments:

  1. Confession: I'm exhausted just reading this! Wow. Just wow. I'm a bit jealous. I've never left NY and wish I had. There's a great big country out there I've explored in week-long vacations. Hardly the way to experience life.

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    1. I think there's much to be said for both ways. Neither is right--they're just different. I have lots of family in NY. It seems like a great place to live.

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  2. I love the line about how your were inspired to fix something if it's not working and not accept the status quo!

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    1. Well, it's my greatest strength--and also my greatest weakness. Sometimes I am probably too quick to change.

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  3. "just a novelist." Oh, Courtney. Never "just" anything, and certainly not "just" a novelist.

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    1. You're a good person to have in my corner, Maryanne. :-)

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  4. As someone who can't stay still either, I love this post! Even if it doesn't mean moving and simply rearranging the furniture, I embrace the change.

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