What choices will I face next? What turning points will bring me to something better, and which will dash me down for a hard lesson?
The last week rises behind me, a clouded past despite this clear, California winter day. The holidays skim by, filled to the brim with the bustle of houseguests, the constant scent of Christmas cookies wafting from the kitchen, and the easy traditions of tree-decorating and feast preparations.
In the midst of it, I try to focus my mind on the work that must be done. All I want to do, though, is sit in bed by myself, while time ticks noisily past, and the clock hands turn their quiet circles for the unending hours.
I sat inside for almost two days straight, reading and reading and reading. The story was about kings and quests and magic.. I'd forgotten how these books dragged me in. My brain washed wild with the author's prose, and the words and thoughts of the single narrator pressed close as the heat of a tropical summer day. At 3 in the morning, when I read the final page of the last book, I found I could not emerge from it. I looked for myself, but my own dreams had been swirled away by the whirl of the story being woven. When I finally fell asleep, my dreams were muddled and from another world that lives only in the imagination and on those pages. I claimed I was no longer of that world, didn't I? There are many things I have loved that I can never completely release.
The aftermath of Christmas swings in. I wake early and feel the gears cranking back up again. I turn on lights of the Christmas tree and sit for a while, watching their muzzy glow fighting the morning sun. I've been leeching, letting my family carry me and care for me. When I meander into the bathroom, the girl who stares back at me is skinny and unwashed, and I feel like years have passed, and not just a week. While washing my afghan in the tub two days ago, I had flashbacks to the hours-long chore of hand-laundering in China. I think about the person I was then, how I would dance upstairs around the conference table in the evenings, long after the workday had ended. Who, or what, have I allowed to shape me since my return in August? What shaping have I refused to accept?
I've made my decision about New York City, and what I will do there. I know what I am passionate about, and I think I see how I can truly intertwine my MBA and ballroom, and still work in conservation. But in the rush of finals, and goodbyes, and now of the holidays, I've watched my usual deliberateness slip away. I've wanted only to catch up on sleep, to eat well again, to sit still and feel the pulse of my family bumping the air of this house.
The time comes then - to shower, to stretch, to reach forward. I take a dance lesson with a coach whose familiarity comes rushing back to me, the way a favorite path in the woods settles your mind and makes you set your feet for the peak. It is time to hike.