by: Heather Fawn
At some point on October 2, 2010, my hopes, dreams, and ambitions were quietly discarded at the international date line. I slept furiously, intentionally, head hunched over the pathetic economy class tray of my seat like I used to nap when I didn’t get enough sleep in high school. I slept to try and ward off anxiety, boredom, more anxiety.
It was never my intention to burn bridges to get back to America. In fact, I thought I was making a wise decision – returning to a place where I’d never have to apply for a visa to validate my existence. I had no way to anticipate the shitstorm of suffering I was about to endure. The violent and parasitic roommate, the inexplicable complications when trying to get a license, buy a car, find a job.
Two years later, I remain in a form of suspended animation. A purgatory in which my skills, experience and education is ignored. My last employer literally forgot that I went to grad school. As if the moment I uttered it, a vacuum seamlessly swept up the information for a trash heap. I have a catch-22 of working to earn enough to save for more school, more tests, more certifications, but never getting past what I need to cover living expenses. No possessions of worth to sell. Too much idealism to find a sugar daddy or strip for a couple months.
I have searched the depths of my intellect, my work ethic, and my resourcefulness to try and come up with a solution. I accept that not having a plan was not a good tactic, but it seems cruel that I remain just above the poverty line simply because of lack of foresight. In the country of my citizenship – the place that is supposed to always make sense – there are no opportunities for me. As if on a treadmill in a bad dream, I cover the same terrain in my mind where the only plausible solution is to move back overseas. Yet I have a little family in Durham. I’ve built a tiny network of people who give a shit. It seems preposterous that I should have to leave the only people in the world who are prepared to have my back.
Sometimes it really does appear as though I am being punished. I see no way out other than escape – English teaching in a country that pays for my airfare, running to my academic friend’s apartment in Oklahoma, or an act of god that levels the playing field indefinitely. All seem far-fetched, troublesome, patchwork. It’s like I’m being ignored. Like the universe forgot what I’m made of. All I want is to return home – to the warm, comfortable sofa of being paid what I’m worth. To academia that pounds my synapses. To a life that isn’t just a series of jobs where I don’t matter and the work doesn’t matter and everyone’s replaceable. Somehow I lost my place in this world just as easily as a book slamming closed
But I am not defeated. I will find my redemption.