back to reality
I'm not ready to leave.
Here's what happened: I got a job. In the course of forty-five minutes yesterday, I got an email from Committee Member #2 that a small college in Austin needed a last-minute replacement for an adjunct instructor. I said, "why not?" and emailed in my cv. A friend happened to be standing in the office when they received my cv, he vouched for me, my phone rang, I said, "yes," called my mom, changed my flight, told Ms. Security I wouldn't need to sleep on her floor this weekend after all, found a place to stay in Austin, re-did the syllabus they sent to fit my teaching philosophy, sent emails to cancel plans with friends here, called my mom again, and all of a sudden I am teaching my own class, entirely alone, for the first time in my life.
I am thrilled and terrified.
And I'm not ready to leave D.C. There were so many things I'd planned to do this week. I didn't finish at the LOC. I didn't go to see Ken at Arlington. I didn't get over to Eastern Market again. I didn't get to see the Building Museum.
And I didn't get to go to the Lincoln Memorial again. I know a lot of people like the Lincoln, and given who I am, I should probably like the Jefferson memorial better. But the Lincoln Memorial has been a touchstone in my life. I seem to end up there when I'm wanting something for my life that is exactly wrong. I stood on its steps at age 17 when I really, really wanted to go to Georgetown. I stood there again at 22 in the middle of the interview day for the foreign service. I stood there after a weekend with SIUTK and his family. I stood there with teenagers on a mission trip. And I went out early this summer in the miserable heat to think about what to do next. I go there again and again, to think about calling and love and life, and to read the Second Inaugural with its heartbreaking line, "And the war came," and Lincoln's understanding that North and South prayed to the same God. We'd do well to think about that when our wars come.
The Lincoln is different at different times of day. On a hot summer afternoon, tourists swarm. At sunset, joggers and children run up and down the chair. On a clear winter afternoon, State Department workers stand on the steps to catch some sunlight. Very late at night, it's almost deserted, with spotlights providing the only light.
I love going there no matter what it's like. And now that I have an Actual Teaching Job, I would have liked to have gone again. Maybe next time.