This is a huge post but I needed to write it. Read it if you want.
What can I do now? What can I do to keep every single moment in my mind forever?
How is it possible that Daniella (my student assistant) and I no longer work together every day? How is it possible that I will never again enter 3B’s classroom and greet the sixteen little souls that I had been entrusted to look after and teach every day?
How can I keep the memories? What can keep me from forgetting? Deirdres smile every time she saw me and how we struggled to make sense of math problems. Luke’s tantrums. Even Jake’s stupid comments or how he insisted on bringing a fidget spinner into the classroom even though we had had no choice but to ban them.. Or how the majority of my kids seemed incapable of learning to stay quiet. Or stay seated.
Please help me remember. Playing games. Reading the fourth Harry Potter book for them. Marvin’s childish charm which made it impossible to stay mad at him no matter how difficult he had been. Katie and Maisie, my darling girls who have helped me so much. How Phoebe’s anger could be turned into creativity. How I’ve gotten at least one hug from Tina.
Or how when we were going to go and sing for the parents on the last day, I didn’t need to tell them – they just lined up behind me like a row of ducklings.
Or how Louise, one of my younger coworkers, would light up my day with a hug or even just a smile.
My classroom is so empty now. I cleaned all the text from the whiteboard. Took their drawings down. Cleaned. Wiped away our memories of tears and yelling and laughing and smiling. And learning of course.
How can it be over? Why isn’t it still January?
I seriously, seriously, seriously love my job.
(All kid’s names are changed)
Pride has come to town. Sadly, I’m quite reserved. That includes my sexuality.
I’m comfortable. It’s not a big deal anymore. I’m still occasionally worried that a parent is going to freak out and complain (I’m a school teacher after all and to some homosexuality is contagious -.-) I’m not in the closet. Not even to my students. I don’t make announcements of course, but if it comes up in conversation I don’t deny it. If they ask if I’m married (and children do, especially if you’re a young woman it seems) I tell them “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife” and like I’ve mentioned before, kids usually don’t care.
I think the best gift we can give our kids, in terms of different sexualities, is to not make discourse of everything. As an adult I’m tired of lectures at university or high school telling me “when we meet gay people we must be nice to them”. I’ve never met another message than an ‘us and them’ message. It doesn’t matter how well meant it is. It shows that the lecturer or teacher or professor is straight and they assume that everyone in the room is straight too. And message recieved. I will always be “them”, “the other”. The message is not for me. I don’t want to be taught to be nice to gay people.
That’s not what I want for my students. I want it to be a non-issue. If my kids come running, telling me that someone is gay, my answer is always a mindless, adult, “oh that’s nice dear”. Call me crazy, but I think that if I start telling my kids “don’t say that, don’t call them gay, they’re probably not gay and even if they are, that’s okay, gay people are people too…,” all they will learn is that gay people are the other. It becomes an issue. If we want it to be normality, we need to treat it like normality. If we make it a discourse, it will be a discourse and you’ll wind up with kids like me – quite sad and uncomfortable when they learn that they are lesbian.
Speak about gender. Yes! Talk abut the right to be who you are. Who you want to be. You’re allowed to wear what you want, have nail polish if you want. Talk about the fact that gender doesn’t matter. But don’t turn sexuality into a subject that needs to be taught. We don’t do that with heterosexuality and as long as we treat homosexuality like something different, it will remain something different. We need it normalised. Not special.
Lesbian is not all I am. It doesn’t define who I am. The gender of my wife has nothing to do with my personality. It defines how I think to some degree, it has influenced my experiences. But it is not all I am and I don’t want it painted as such.
I am very proud of and grateful for the great people who came before me. Thank you for my right to marry. My security. My ability and right to raise kids. Compared to older lesbians my life has been, is, so easy (my wife’s life hasn’t, but that’s a different story). So thank you for your struggle. It is called Pride, not as in the biblical sin but as in “we are not ashamed”. And we shouldn’t be ashamed because we have nothing to be ashamed of.
But gosh, my reserved nature does not like pride. Or maybe that’s shyness. I’ve known I’m a lesbian for ten years now and I’ve never been (and I’ve lived in three different towns that hosts Pride festivals). I’m equally terrified and curious. (and enjoying the rainbows which are EVERYWHERE this week) So this is my thank you instead.
Thank you for your struggle, to all who struggle for LGBTQA rights. And I’m sorry for my cowardice and occasional recluse nature. I will most likely hide this year as well.
And what have I done? To be honest it feels like nothing. On average I’m writing 300 words a week if even that. Updating my blog isn’t even on the radar. Even though I want to, I really want to. It’s May. Last time I updated my blog was January.
I looked at my goals for the year yesterday. Almost all of them are writing-related. And what am I doing? I’m either dealing with the stupid health issues or working. There isn’t much energy for else. And most of the time I don’t even feel guilty. I’m doing the best with what I’ve been given. And you know what? I have less than twenty working days until the summer. And during the summer I will collect myself, get my body to work again properly and have so much time to write. Before then all I can do is bide my time.
So I’ll probably not write anything here until the middle of June, but luckily it’s not far away. In the meantime I can start thinking about what I actually want to blog about.
Before I graduated, the idea of my blog was short stories. And it kind of works (except the mess that is “Never break a leg before christmas”, I know I haven’t finished it and honestly I will) except during school weeks when lesson plans take up a lot of my creativity and energy. Whatevers left I want to give to novels or novellas. So what can I blog about? What do people blog about? I don’t have that much writing experience, I mean, I do but not if you compare to other bloggers. Especially not this dreadful year. I have very little experience with self-publishing. What can I write about then? Teaching. I have experienced with violent kids, kids with dyslexia, kids with ADHD, unhelpful parents. I can talk about being rootless, of not living in a place more than four years all my life. I guess I can talk about boats. And nature. I can talk about stress and guilt. Of putting on music and dancing around to it. What else is there to me?
My mum gave me this light. It runs on cooking oil, how cool is that?
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the middle of move. We get the keys in eight days from now and we honestly can’t wait. I hope for some stability now and stop moving around like a restless soul.
When packing and organising, I found my most valuable possession. My pen drive. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my stories. What do people do to protect their work? I have occasional months of being terribly lazy and forgetting to back up but I want to be better.
To me this pen drive encompasses my whole life. It contains everything. It contains all I have written since 2011 which might not seem like many years but to me it’s been years of rapid development. Not just writing-wise.
In it, I have my fanfictions. The good, the bad, the downright terrible. In it, I carry the first disastrous drafts of State of Emergency. It has all my short stories, posted and unposted. It has the words I produced during the skiing vacation in 2013. One-shot femslashes I wrote during lectures in teaching school. Secretly. In the back. And I was still paying attention to the lecturer, I promise. It contains the full drafts of Out of Hand and Stargazing. The plans for State of Emergency part II. An an unfinished draft of On Board the Monster.
It contains stories I wrote while I lived in Sundsvall. Stories I wrote while I lived in Lysekil. Stories I wrote while I lived in Uddevalla. I wonder what stories I will write while I live in my new town.
I’ll probably run out of pen drive space before soon, though.
It gets better.
Today I ran my fastest kilometer ever and it felt absolutely amazing. As I was feeling the world rush by, I couldn’t help but think back to just four years ago.
I can imagine the girl that I was, 22, run into the ground. When I was 22 I was… sad. I don’t want to say depressed because I never received any diagnosis nor did I seek help for it, but I was numb and completely empty inside. I cried every night. My body continued without me as I got up every day, as I cooked and cleaned, as I took care of my unwell girlfriend, as I listened to my mother cry every single day on the phone, as I worked part time and studied full time, as I counted every penny and knew that even if I cut myself in two and sold half we couldn’t afford food. Hardly rent. So I worked more. More money. Less time. But at least I didn’t have to stare at the tomatoes and cucumber and know that I had to choose. I couldn’t afford both.
And friends? I wasn’t too liked at my uni. We lived in the north and I was from the south. I didn’t speak like them. I didn’t know the area like them. I was isolated on the island we had created, far away from any friends and family. My girlfriend and I. Not really Swedish. We had only been in this country, my country, for two years. And I hated it. I missed Britain. I wished I hadn’t left the country I had lived my whole adult life in.
But at 22 I went back to writing. I had written earlier of course, but between the ages of 19 and 22 I wrote nothing. I didn’t have any words. But suddenly they came back with a vengeance. I wrote to feel something. To find myself again. To find the spark that had been killed as I had lost myself years before.
So I went looking. I went looking for the 17-year-old who had left home, fresh-faced and naive. I didn’t know the girl I had used to be anymore, all I knew was that she had died in Britain. She had died so that I could be born and at 22 I didn’t know who I was yet. I have tried telling people this. But they always say “you’re always so happy” and I guess I was always happy. I had the world on my shoulders and a smile on my lips. I was good at pretending.
I used to feel sorry for myself. Not the 22-year-old me, but the Kathy who was a teenager. The 18-year-old who lived alone in a cold flat in a little British town. No hot water. I boiled water on the stove to wash my clothes in the bathtub. The building I lived in was situated between three pubs and I would lay awake in my bed listening to the roars and shouts of the drunk people downstairs. In the winter my flat was so cold I would go to bed at 6 PM just to get warm again. Double trousers, jumper, cover and blanket. And I learned. I learned to cook, and after the skin fell of my hands I learned not to wash my clothes without plastic gloves.
But at the same time I lost myself.
I wanted to hug little me, and tell her that it’ll be okay and that I’m so sorry she had to die.
But everyone has to grow up sometime.
At 22 I changed. I found writing again, and a friend was nice enough to send me Jae’s Backwards to Oregon. Then several of Gil McKnight’s books. Which introduced me to lesbian fiction.
And I found myself again. My girlfriend stopped sleeping so much. We moved back south and I started studying here instead. I started believing in myself. I started running. I’m asthmatic and sometimes I thought I would die. But I ran. And I wrote. And I read. And I lived.
I don’t live by my past anymore. I don’t need every difficult thing to be a part of my identity and I have restored the connection with the girl I was. And now?
Now I’m married. We have two dogs. I have graduated and I have a wonderful job waiting for me that I’m starting on Monday. And this week I published my first novel.
And today I ran my fastest kilometer ever.