During the month of April, I’ll be blogging as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each day of April (minus Sundays) will bring you one post related to a corresponding letter of the alphabet. This year I’m presenting reflections on the year I spent walking cemeteries. I’ll also talk about how those walks inspired my writing. There will also be pictures. Lots of ’em. So many that I was almost tempted to simply post pics from cemeteries with no text, but that seemed contrary to the spirit of the challenge. Anyway, here we go!
A is for Arrival
I started my year of cemetery walks in the fall of 2013. I had been newly tenured the previous January. I had slogged through the senoritis of spring semester and started my 15-month sabbatical in June. I had achieved professional success. I had climbed the academic ladder, proven my worth, gained complete (for the most part) career stability.
And the rest of life was pretty good, too. I had (and still have) a loving and supportive spouse, two healthy & happy children, a house with an actual picket fence, health insurance. All the things. I had arrived.
And yet I was at loose ends. Was this what I wanted to do with my life? Was this where I wanted to be? I had arrived at a pinnacle of professional and personal success…yet what lay beyond the horizon? What was around the bend in the road? Barring tragedy and loss, was there even going to be another bend in the road?
When I was younger, the question was, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Now at 38, question became, “What else do I want to do before I die?”
A quick caveat: This isn’t going to be the kind of blog where a white woman whines about her perfect life. At least I hope not. I recognize my privilege, the advantages I’ve been given because of the color of my skin, because of my straightness, because of when and where I was born. A big part of my cemetery walks involved recognizing those advantages. Those walks were also about listening, trying to discern not only where I’d come from, but where I was going.
So I’d arrived, not at the end of a journey, as expected, but at the start of a new one.