Last Saturday, I moved out of the convent. Moving out was bitersweet. One or two of them cried when they hugged me goodbye. The nuns sure know how to make a person feel loved. They put The Sound of Music record on and sang me the “So Long, Farewell” song. Then they presented me with a picture book that has notes from each sister, a giant container of chocolate chip cookies (my favorite), a big cookie cake, these chocolate truffles they keep around that I adore, and some plastic ice cream bubble blowers. They said the bubbles were because I can’t have real ice cream (due to the dairy allergy I discovered I had while living with them).
Three of the younger ones (when I say younger, I mean: 79 & 80) hung around the door to say final goodbyes when I left the building for the last time. One of them made a joke that they aren’t used to people leaving the retirement home feet-first. As I hopped in the truck with my dad, they handed me a white napkin. They said when they were young nuns, if someone very important was leaving the convent, they waved white flags. One of the jokesters made sure to let me know she was never important enough to have white flags waved at her. They used the white napkins as flags, waving them at me and instructing me to wave mine as we drove away. It’s another example of how they exemplify making the little gestures have great meaning. It will forever stick with me as a moment I felt overwhelmingly loved.
I went out for beer with my best friend from growing up and some of her family. We went to a small town festival. People were filling my cup, teasing me that getting out of the convent was like getting out of prison, encouraging me to drink more. My friend’s cousin told me my blog makes her uncomfortable, because it’s too confessional. I laughed, because I write this for an audience. People ranging from my mom, to my grandma, to former bosses and teachers have told me they read this. Confessional memoir is the genre I write in most, but I don’t treat this blog as art. Because of that, I don’t take risks I might otherwise take in my writing. There’s certain topics I don’t even address on here to keep it reader friendly. My book will be much more intimate. Guess it’s good to know I keep it raw 🙂
It’s been a chaotic week or two. After lots of traveling, I’m exhausted. Took a trip south to visit my new graduate school and find an apartment. Also had an overnight adventure to Chicago to meet with my ind. study instructor. It feels great to be back at the convent. The sisters greeted me with warm welcomes and the silence is refreshing.
Rode south in a truck with both parents. Three people scrunching in one truck for a road trip is a bit much. Surprisingly we had a rather easy trip. The drive went well, we didn’t want to kill each other, and I found a cute one-bedroom apartment. I feel much better about moving now that I met some people from my program and saw where I’ll live. My apartment has a balcony and a glass sliding door in both the front and back, creating lots of natural light. I want to set a peaceful mood with the decor, so it’s a place that fosters creativity. It certainly has potential.
Chicago was okay. Meeting and planning my class went well. My instructor is everything I could want in a mentor: kind, understanding, talented, driven, and funny. I’m incredibly excited to be working with her. However, for some reason, the trip triggered my anxiety pretty severely, so I was ungodly tense the entire 24 hours of traveling, which really kills my spirit. Being that tense is exhausting. My body was in fight or flight mode for too long; it drained me, causing some depression. Luckily, it was temporary, and a full night’s rest upon my return helped.
The photo book I had made for the sisters came while I was away. I got to show my mom today when she dropped me off. It turned out beautiful, full of nature photos I took on the property with powerful quotes. There’s also pictures of the sisters given to me specifically for this project by a few helpful outsiders. I’m going to give it to them as a going away gift when I move out on Saturday. I think they’ll really love it. They appreciate the little things, and I can picture them all looking at it multiple times in their library. I gave them a framed pen and ink drawing I did of a tree for Christmas, and they still rave about it. It’s not that I’m all that great of an artist, but they sure make me feel like it. I hope I can make others feel as special as they’ve made me feel. I’m feeling a bit of grief as this powerful experience comes to a close. Like everything–good and bad alike–this, too, shall pass.
On a walk last night, I watched two foxes interact for about fifteen minutes. It appeared to be a mom and a younger one. I wasn’t super close, which is why they continued to go about their business. They’d look at me, occasionally, making sure I wasn’t moving toward them. They were lying on top of a mound of dirt in the cemetery. I’m guessing their den might be inside. I got such joy just watching them behave like my dog. They look so cute when they were doing ordinary things, like scratching themselves or doing the downward dog stretch.
The night before, a fawn stumbled out near me. It didn’t see me. As soon as I saw it emerge from the bushes, I sat perfectly still. Because it didn’t see me, it didn’t get scared. I loved watching the little thing frolic around. It must have been pretty young because it had a lot of spots and didn’t appear too stable on its feet. I didn’t see a mother around anywhere, though. I’m certainly going to miss living in such a beautiful location.
My friend, Tammy, spent the weekend here with me. The sisters love meeting my friends, and I love showing my friends what my life is like here. They’re both such foreign lifestyles to one another. Tammy and I went to a nice Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas. I don’t like mixed drinks very often, but these tasted perfect. The sister who connected me with my living situation recommended the place. I’d been there once before with my friend, Emily. I wish I’d have discovered the place sooner to take some of my other visitors there.
On Saturday we went to the local history museum. I never liked history in school, but it amazes me when I visit places and learn about the people who came before. It’s easier for me to imagine the people as actually living instead of being dead stories passed down. History reminds me of poetry in the way that both are not taught very well in school. These subjects should come alive, but are instead presented as facts to memorize and analyze.
This weekend I’m going South with my parents to find a place to live in August and meet with the director of my program. It will be interesting to see this foreign place I will call home for the next three years. Moving is such a shock–physically, mentally, spiritually. I was nervous to move in with the sisters, and that turned out great. It helps my confidence to remember that. Whatever the future brings, I will adapt.