Today was the last day of school.
I started my career in education in August of 2001, so I have had my fair share of last days of school. Even in the worst years, I usually get a little emotional when it's time to wrap it up for the summer. Experience has taught me that you never know if you will see people again, and that is especially true in a school environment. Life happens, people move. Kids go off to different schools, coworkers' spouses are transferred over the summer... that sort of thing. You know it's coming, but it's still difficult.
Today was a rough last day of school. Aside from the fact that I kept getting teary-eyed with the kids, I recently decided that it would be best for me to move back to Atlanta to be near my family after giving it a year here in Austin. Since I don't like when people just vanish, I figured I needed to announce this to people today. I could have easily slipped away over the summer, but that felt wrong - almost as wrong as my decision to go back to Atlanta feels when I roll it around in my head.
Do I like Atlanta? We have a rocky relationship, and that's a feeling that started a long time ago. There are things I love about the city- and those things are people. I miss my friends and my family. I don't like feeling like I'm a bad aunt/sister/daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin because I can't show up to dinner on a random weeknight or make it to a birthday party or T-ball game without it being a big (expensive) deal. It hurts sometimes to miss out on the things my friends are doing. If my return to Atlanta, however, is anything like my previous time there, then I can be prepared for my family to find it too difficult to visit me, as I wouldn't live in the southern suburbs with the rest of them, or to feel lonely from a lack of a deep connection with anyone. I make more money in Atlanta, but the schools I've worked in have been rife with unnecessary drama and controversy. It's a city of failed relationships, bad habits, race issues, and humidity. Oy, the humidity! My family and friends there are wonderful, and I love them, but they don't/can't change the fact that I feel a sense of freedom and drive here in Austin that I didn't find back "home".
Things got off to a bumpy start with Austin. I moved here after an especially emotionally exhausting year, and I brought some of that baggage along with me (despite my best attempts not to). I started working at a brand new school with people who were coming together from several different places. I spent several days in the hospital, and that coupled with the cost of flights back home put me in a less-than-ideal financial scenario for a bit. I was hoping that people would come visit me in my new city, and although that hasn't happened yet, I am still hoping for that.
So, eleven months later, this is what I know.
I love my job. I have ideas I want to implement, the workspace is just aesthetically amazing, and I have a great group of colleagues that have become my best friends here. Did I mention I work with cute little kids who say/do some really funny and adorable things on a daily basis? There is also a really great support system of librarians in my district, and I know that doesn't happen everywhere.
Aside from work, I have a great boyfriend who does an excellent job at being a true partner. A lot of the time I put up walls and make myself distant, and that is something I need to work on no matter where I live. Somewhere along the line I picked up this whole self-destructive thing, and it's really not a good look for me. Hopefully recognizing and admitting this is at least a baby step in the right direction, along with remembering and appreciating the work he has put into making us, well, us. I've dated my fair share of guys over the years, and he is a rare find when it comes to being emotionally available, caring, and patient. Did I mention he loves to cook? This goes really well with my love of eating! We have some different ideas on things, but there is room for compromise and growth.
Austin has little things that I enjoy, and I'm not sure if a suitable Atlanta replacement exists for them. I love Pinballz, the giant arcade near my apartment. I could kill hours in Half Price Books. There is a river/lake downtown, and although the trees are not as tall and majestic as the ones back east, the rolling hills here make for lovely scenery (not to mention all the open sky). I'm involved in a community-run radio station, where, if I put in enough time, I can eventually wind up with my own show. The cinema scene here is in a completely different league than Atlanta, and you're never more than a stone's throw away from some tasty tacos.
Today as my boss announced to my coworkers that I was not coming back next year, I cried. I cried when my coworkers gave me hugs and said they would miss me next year. I cried in the library by myself after everyone had gone. I sent out an email to the librarians' listserv saying I was leaving, and I cried while doing that. I went to an engagement party for a coworker, enjoying a vast, blue sky as I sipped margaritas by the pool and laughed with friends and strangers. It felt like home, and it was the first time in a few days where I didn't want to burst into tears.
I'm not proud of myself for making a fairly major decision that I want to reverse so quickly, especially after having to declare it so many people today. I have changed my mind before, and I imagine it reflects poorly on me to a degree. That being said, I will not be proud of myself for going back to Atlanta out of a sense of guilt or obligation, and I really won't be proud if I get there and get right back into my old habits and mindset. I suppose I am The Girl Who Cried Atlanta. In the wise words of The Human League, "I'm only human, born to make mistakes", and today has shown me that abandoning this leg of my journey so quickly might just be a mistake.
I love you deep down, Atlanta, but I have to do what feels best in my heart and mind - not what makes me want to cry and/or vomit all day.