Wednesday, June 3, 2009

So far so good

Well, thankfully, I talked to the paralegal who was very encouraging about my situation, and then I talked to my boss. She said it was no problem at all for me to go to the passport meeting, and to leave work early on Friday to fly out of the country. Now I just need to make sure I can get a ticket and my passport, neither of which is a guarantee at this point.

So much is happening right now. I started my new job on Monday, but really I was just in training for the last two days. Along with people from about four or five other organizations, we had a training all about farmworker law, including tax issues, housing, field sanitation, H2A & H2B workers, the Agricultural Workers Protection Act and much more. It would be a lie to say that I was captivated and sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. It's hard to stay focused for 8 hours in the same moot court room, two days straight, even when the subject is interesting, there is plenty of free coffee and you've had many breaks. Still.

As I sat in the room and looked over the agenda, and listened to the lawyers give their presentations, I was struck by how perfect this whole situation is. Three years ago, I was working for a mom-and-pop company training spanish-speaking laborers on how to avoid electrocution in a wet crawlspace or keep from being buried alive while digging a trench. I was helping co-workers complete workers comp forms when their backs gave out or the trench did collapse. I was calling landlords to ask why rent checks were never cashed, and handing out pamphlets on the free neighborhood clinics run by Duke. I loved it. Going to law school was my best guess as to how I could continue to do this type of work as a career. I didn't want to be a social worker. I didn't want to be a translator. Human resources was never going to work. This is it. And I feel so lucky. I'm excited about this summer!

Meanwhile, my uncle is laying in a bed somewhere far south of here, unable to move anything but his eyes. Six months ago, he was flying helicopters in Afghanistan, a fact that I was never comfortable with, but which speaks to his health and the manner with which he approached life: fearlessly. I am completly baffled and frightened by the fact that my macho, overly-protective, doting, hard-drinking, fun-loving, physically fit uncle, the oldest surviving son of my grandmother, the man who used to tell me I should have one boyfriend for every day of the week, who only just met T for the first time over Christmas, but immediately liked him and welcomed him into the family only two weeks ago... that he is now bed-ridden for life, and that he is stuck in this horrible medical, legal, ethical limbo. It makes no sense. It seems unreal. I can't believe this is actually happening to us.

At the same time, T and I went out to dinner tonight, where he brought up a concern that he had. He shared a story with me that he didn't have to share. The kind of story that is easier to keep to yourself to avoid questions. But because I am dating a wonderful man, and because we have learned the hard way about radical honesty and trust, he came to me and we talked. We're not a perfect couple by any stretch. I know that T and I will weather our fair share of storms in the future, just as any couple will have to do. We've been through some hell of our own already, which we were fortunate enough to have been brought together by, rather than getting torn apart. Sometimes I don't think I stop often enough to think about how lucky we are.

I was saying to him how as I've grown older I've grown more self-confident. It's true. It's not that I feel prettier (I don't) or smarter (I don't) or even wiser (I don't, usually). The difference between who I am now and who I was when I first met T has a lot more to do with how much more I believe in myself. And because I believe in myself, I don't walk around feeling fearful all the time, like I used to do when I was younger. Now, when I feel bad, whether it's insecurity, anger or disappointment, I believe my reasons and I trust myself enough to bring those feelings to the table. And I trust T to take me seriously. Because of that trust, I don't feel guilty bringing things up, and I usually feel better after we've talked. It's awesome. It's not perfect. It doesn't always work. But it's awesome.

So it's a mixed bag these days. Wedding planning. New job. No summer funding. Family illness. Sadness. Love.

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