Last week I wrote about making a tremendous life change.  I knew that there would be emotional fallout, and I wasn’t wrong.  The decision to leave teaching and write full-time is alternately exciting, sad, liberating and terrifying.  Over the last week or so I’ve been plagued by a sense of longing.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for something, but I’m not entirely sure what that is.  Maybe it’s the fact that I still have four more months to teach before I can hit the ground running.  Maybe it’s the inevitable fear of failure or the financial instability.  But I’ve retreated into my own head, where no one else can go, and I’m sure that a few people have wondered about that distant look in my eyes when my mind has wandered away mid-conversation.

But today I’m wearing Ariana’s shirt, and I feel a little bit better.

How did I end up in my friend’s shirt, you might ask?  No, it wasn’t through a Black Swan-esque lesbian tryst (I wish), or a laundry snafu.  This weekend one of my best friends, Tara, made a return trip to Austin for a girls’ weekend.  Six of us stole away to a lake house about an hour outside of town.  We had grand plans of hitting up one of the local country bars, canoeing on the water, playing board games and watching chick flicks.  But when we arrived at around 4:00 in the afternoon, we looked around and realized that we didn’t need anything else but my signature beer dip, a few giant bottles of wine, and a lot of conversation.

Over the course of the night we traveled from the edge of the water, to one of the decks, to yet another porch by the fire pit.  We stuffed our faces at dinner, went through more alcohol than I care to remember, and discussed things I don’t want to forget.  We curled up together, wrapped in blankets, and finished the night upstairs slumber-party style.  I think I fell asleep around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and yet we picked up right where we left off in the morning.  By mid-afternoon we’d already cracked open the remaining dip and cheeses, and we were yet again snuggled up, looking out over the water clutching big mugs of coffee.  And I’d poached Ariana’s shirt off the floor when I realized that I had forgotten a change of clothes. 

What is it about the company of girlfriends that calms a restless mind?    These girls were some of the first friends that I had in Austin, and in many ways they cured the homesickness that I felt through much of my first year here.  When I finished my Master’s degree I decided to stay in this city largely due to their presence.  We were all teammates at one point, and that connection has a natural way of forming bonds.  But I was so lucky in that I stepped on to a team filled with tremendously loyal women, and the friendships formed almost instantly.  These girls became my family away from home, and even though years have passed and relationships have changed, they remain touchstones for me.  I’ve shared ultra-personal information with them on long roadtrips and in late-night conversations.  This is a group of people who reserve judgment no matter what the confession.  I can say anything to them, and I know that I can trust them implicitly.  When we’re together, the world and all of its pressures fades away.  Being around them is like wearing Ariana’s shirt: Comfortable.  Easy.  Close to my heart.

I couldn’t ignore the gloom that washed over me when I dropped off Tara at the airport.  I was missing her—and my other friends—already.  I was sad to see the weekend end. 

But I’m still wearing Ariana’s shirt.

Leave a Reply