February 24, 2016

Space for peace

It’s 9:27 on Sunday morning. My dad sits in the driver’s seat in front of me dragging our minivan 45 mph along the highway. My sisters are rag dolls falling asleep on one another and bouncing with the road’s bumps and curves, another sister plays games on her phone, my mom taps virtual cards in a game of solitaire, and my brother sits, ear buds in, looking out the window. The roads are snowy. Tilled up cornfields are frozen over. The fields usually appear to reach the earth’s end, but today the world ends in a white wall. Limited visibility is an understatement.

I’ve spent a portion of the drive working through a Lean Canvas worksheet. Looking out the window, I then turn to my backpack, extract my laptop, and lift the cover to begin writing this piece. I haven’t been able to find words honest enough to put down on paper, but this snowy drive is a rather accurate way to describe my current state: I’m surrounded by people I love while trying to navigate with limited visibility.

It’s been about three weeks since Ei’s second meetup and almost all of my classmates are starting their apprenticeships in London, Wales, Portugal, New York, Nicaragua, Chicago, and L.A. By now, I expected to be somewhere other than Normal, IL. I’m in this weird limbo state – caught somewhere between graduation and landing an apprenticeship. In short, this means I’m jobless.

I am scared.

But, I find spaces of peace in the hours of imagination spent with 3-year-old Libby who I babysit on Friday nights, in the gym I’ve gone to since senior year of high school, in midnight giggles with my best friend Candace, in unexpected phone calls from classmates and Dayna, and the everyday routine moments of life with my family.

These spaces have given me direction on where to head, but no destination. I’ve started compiling a newsletter of sorts – it more closely resembles an online class, but I’m emailing it so who knows what it is exactly – on experiential learning. I’ve been revisiting the streets of Nyhavn in Copenhagen and the green grass of the open prison in northern Denmark as I write about my experience abroad and realize again just how much I learned from that. I’ve reclaimed watercoloring and music since pulling out paintbrushes and the guitar I’ve stowed away for some time. My laptop has become my constant companion as I brave the cold to burrow into the various coffee shops around town to focus on emailing and engaging in delightful 30-minute conversations with different companies I’m interested in. I don’t know where all of this is leading me, but I trust myself to figure it out. Maybe I find a full-time apprenticeship in Chicago, maybe I opt to nanny while working on a side project.

In these next few weeks, I hope (will!) find what this next term holds for me even as it sprints to the finish. A special thank you to those of you who’ve given me the tugs, pushes, and nudges that provided me some direction. These conversations have become my new classroom.

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