It’s beautiful outside of my window today. The hillside is just starting to catch fire with the blaze of autumn as we creep to the thick of September. I’m up early, and not because I have to be. I have sat here in this room so many times before, looking up to the point where the trees seem to brush the sky, branches as arms reaching high. And every single time, the view is different.
It was different when I was 14 and full of all of these unknowns that made me sick to my stomach. When my grandmother had just died, and I was questioning the longevity of any of my friendships or relationships at all, I would find my escape and solace in music and solitude, convincing myself that I was not in fact a social creature and needed to be “pure” by cutting myself off from anyone that might be interested in what I had to say. Then, the fading greens were actually grey and withered, just like everything else in my periphery, and spring seemed too far away to hope for.
It was different when I was 22, swinging back up out of the worst depressive period of my short little life. I had just moved back into my childhood bedroom from college, armed with a degree and hope. And the only “he” that mattered for the past four years was back, too, and my future seemed so big and so wide open and exciting, and I hadn’t felt excited in such a very long time. Spring had arrived, and so the world had burst into life. I spent my summer drunk on both bottom shelf vodka and hope. The green was electrifying.
It was different when I was 23, because what a difference a year can make. My father was in the hospital, and had been and would be for six terrifying months of wondering if he’d ever make it out again. I did not have a job and was back and forth from home to the hospital two hours away, staying in my aunt’s bedroom and sustaining myself on Facebook chats with “him” and reruns of Sleepy Hollow. Try as I might, I couldn’t distract myself from the fear that ate me from within. When I looked out my window, everything was dark. I was awake with the moon and it seems like I can’t remember one instance of a bright night. The trees were skeletons and they were black and they mirrored everything I was feeling inside.
Now, I’m 25. I started a new job on August 15. It’s still a teaching gig, and I’m still teaching math, but GET THIS: I only have ONE lesson plan to do each week. One. I teach the same subject all day long. This group of kids is different, too; they’re eager to please and ready to learn. Sure, I have a couple of behavioral issues to work out, but the difference between last year and this year is night and day. Literally. I will never say I’m 100% cured from anxiety or thought demons, but I have a life. I feel so much better. I am not in my most perfect, ideal situation, but I can work with this. I can dedicate myself to knowing the subject better and more completely. I can be a better teacher to my kids. I can do things outside of school and not feel guilty for not devoting every ounce of myself to work or work-related things.
I feel like respiration is finally possible for me again. When I think about the future, I don’t think about how much better it would be if I wasn’t in it. Just months ago, that wasn’t true. I want to do better. I want to be better. I want to do things that improve my situation.
For now, I am content with the view outside of my window with the knowledge that even when autumn hits and the leaves are dying and the trees are going to sleep, change is coming, and it’s all cyclical, and it’s not all quite so terrible.