Saturday, May 12, 2012

Moving, Moving, Moving On


Toward the end of the school year in 1972, I felt the need to move on. Actually, this on-line memoir has shown me that I had a tendency during those first years out of the convent to move on often—to a new apartment, a new job, a new state. 
            This nomadic lifestyle began in the convent. I took first vows in January 1960. From that time until December 1966—six and a half years later—the Mother Superior sent me to five schools in two states.
            To use an analogy, by the time I left the convent, I’d become a sprinter, not a long-distance runner. That is, I didn’t stay long in any one place.
            After the convent, I stayed at home in Missouri for a month. Then I moved to Dayton, Ohio, to work. During the next two and a half years, I lived in six apartments before attending grad school in Minnesota for two years, living off-campus.
            Returning to Dayton, I lived in an apartment and taught at the dropout center for a year. Next, I moved to New Hampshire, where I lived in an apartment for three months before settling in an 1810 farmhouse with two roommates. A year later I returned to Missouri. Several weeks later, I drove north to Minnesota to work.


The autumn beauty of New Hampshire.

            So in the six and a half years between leaving the convent and moving back to Minnesota, I lived in eleven residences and four states.
            Add it up.
            In thirteen years—from January 1960 to August 1973—I lived in sixteen residences in six states.
            Once I moved back to Minnesota, I lived in two different places before I bought a home in May 1977 and ceased to roam—or, to use my analogy, to sprint. I abided in that welcoming 1870 lumberjack home for thirty-two years.
            During those thirteen years of wanderlust, I never thought of settling in one place. Strangely, I’d left the convent because I thought I wasn’t a good teacher and yet again and again I’d reentered classrooms. While at the dropout center in 1972, I’d even flown to Detroit for two job interviews to teach outside the United States.
            In a spacious hotel room in the Motor City, an urbane gentleman interviewed me for a job teaching at an American school in Turkey. He asked me to give him three, short definitions of myself.
            “I’m a human being seeking meaning. A teacher who values community. And an animal lover.”
            Next he asked me about my philosophy of education.
            Then he offered me the job for an enticing $10,000 a year. Since I’d been making $7,000, this tempted me. However, I had one question that would influence my decision.
             “Will I wear a veil when I go out of the school’s compound?” I asked.
            “Yes.”
            “I wore a veil for eight years. Long enough for me.”
            My next Detroit interview was for a job teaching in Aruba for a U.S. company that had established a school for its employee’s children. Afterward, I was offered the job—for $12,000 a year.


Oranjestad—the capital of Aruba.

            Before accepting, I again asked one question: “Do you facilitate meetings between the children who are citizens of Aruba and the visiting children of your employees?
            “No.”
            Once again, I turned down the job.
            On my return to Dayton, I began to look for a teaching position in New England. While getting a graduate degree in American Studies, I’d become intrigued with that area and its Yankee mentality.
            By this time, I’d learned to drive and bought my first car. So in August 1972, I headed northeast. I stayed in Claremont, New Hampshire, for only one year. You can read about my teaching there in the following postings:

·      Two Roads Diverged
·      Holy Ground
·      The Box Sprung Open
·      Thank You One and All

            Thanks for joining me on this peripatetic journey throughout my life. One of these fine posting days I’ll share with you my conclusions on why I kept moving on. And why I am now moving again—back to Minnesota. Hang in there with me!

Photographs from Wikipedia

Afterword #1: Throughout the remainder of May, I’ll post about the publication of a new book that is a companion to A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story as well as several other social justice issues that have impinged on my life since 1973 when I left Claremont, New Hampshire.

Afterword #2: At the Dayton dropout center, I participated in segregated education. If you’re interested in  reading an article in today’s New York Times about these schools in New York City, please click here.


34 comments:

  1. Dee--It doesn't happen very often, but I am speechless, especially after reading the posts about your "C", "D" & "F" students! You have changed the lives of so many people. I (& they) are truly blessed to have known you!

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    1. Dear Fishducky, . . . speechless???!!!!???? Thank you. Peace.

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  2. I've been more a settler than a pioneer in regards to how many times I've moved in my entire life. I am in awe of people like you who can pick up and move and enjoy it. Perhaps when my husband and I retire, it will be more attractive to me.

    I always enjoy reading your memoirs~

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    1. Dear Shelly, . . . maybe you'd enjoy reading Melissa's blog about how she and her husband are traveling in an RV--seeing the United States. Here's the site:
      http://writeryogini.blogspot.com/

      Peace.

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  3. Interesting you remind me of one of my friends whose from Turkey

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    1. Dear Baur, . . . I hope you have good memories of that friend! Peace.

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  4. I, too, have lived the nomadic life. I tired of it, but I saw many places I had always longed to visit.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Dear Janie, . . . yes, that is the wonder of travel. We see places that teach us so much. Peace.

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  5. Your life has certainly never been average! Every time I read something about your adventures, it amazes me that it all fit into one lifetime, which still has more adventures ahead. I look forward to them. "=_

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    1. Dear DJan, . . . well, the truth is that I've thought my life and myself were very ordinary. So I've been surprised at the comments since I started posting. Life is full of surprises! Peace.

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  6. You are such an interesting woman, Dee! I've never moved about and I am solidly committed to staying put! LOL! But there is a little niggle in my mind that does ask the question, "what did you miss out on by being such a settler!" and the truth is, I am sure plenty. I've also gained, but as you well know, our lives take on different dimensions that are sometimes rooted in opportunity and other times are really because we have a little spark in us that sets us apart. Your "spark" is larger than most, I think, Dee. I look forward to every story and learning something new about you. As you move forward I feel so fortunate that you're going to take us with you! Debra

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    1. Dear Debra, . . . I truly believe that all of us are right now where we are supposed to be in the great scheme of Oneness. Peace.

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  7. Oh Dee. I look forward to your posts, and after each one come away filled with awe. Your were and are such an incredible teacher. Teachers today do not seem to be as respected as they once were - which is such a shame because an inspiring teacher can change the world.]
    Thank you. So much.

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    1. Dear EC, . . . I so agree with you about teachers. They inspire the students who change the world. And they help students become the human beings--mind, body, and soul--that they long to be. This lack of respect is a sad statement about education today. Peace.

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  8. You are a searcher, and your journeys have taken you places where you have been needed. Your life has been both interesting and spectacular and the strangers you have met along the way have been blessed by your presence.

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    1. Dear Arleen, . . . and you know, I truly have been blessed by the presence of all whom I've met--those who raised me, educated me, and befriended me. Blessings abound in all our lives I think. Peace.

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  9. As usual this was a fascinating insight into your life my friend.

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    1. Dear Melynda, . . . thank you. Peace.

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  10. I must say you had good reasons to turn down the jobs you refused. You asked the right questions. I too have been both nomad and anchored. Both life styles have advantages.
    Looking forward to the more to come.

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    1. Dear Arkansas Patti, . . . The questions felt right to me; they reflected my concerns. And yes, I so agree. The years of being a nomad had advantages, but so did those years I spent in my home in Stillwater. And the three years I've spent here in Missouri. Mom used to say, "Grow where you're planted." I know now what she meant. Peace.

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  11. My, your story is wonderful...so full of living. I came out of an every kind of abusive marriage after being with him for 30yrs. I too kept changing homes. I kept on the run basically so that he wouldn't find me.
    Now I am married again, for seven years now and yet, I get the feeling that I still don't belong?
    Your 1870 house sounds like a real home. One where you were able to feel peace and be able to settle.
    Glad you have your cats. Pets are so special.

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    1. Dear Crystal Mary, . . . I'm sorry to hear that life was so hard for those thirty years and then afterward when you tried to elude your ex-husband. That feeling of belonging is so important. Perhaps that's something you need to mediate on and consider. And of course that's what I've been doing with this blog--coming home to myself. Peace.

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  12. Dee, it seems to me you moved on because you were always looking for places where you could make a difference and very often you succeeded in that magnificently.

    I think many of us go through times in our life of being settled or a 'mover-on'. I've been settled for most of my life, but did move house 4 times in 8 years in the last decade, which is a lot for me. :-) Now I move between houses regularly but always come home to Wales.

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    1. Dear Perpetua, . . . The moving you do regularly each year would test my packing ability for sure! But as you say, you always come home Wales. Finding my home has been, for me, a life time of coming to accept myself. Peace.

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  13. Dee, you were born with wheels on your feet. Keep on rolling!

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    1. Dear Susan, . . . if the house sells I'll "roll" right up there to Minnesota! Peace.

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  14. I sometimes wish we had moved more, Dee, though I am mostly content with where I have been. You have been to such interesting places and done such good works. I admire that, as well as your perceptiveness in the questions you asked and quickly discovered the job wasn't what was right in your eyes. You are, dear Dee, a woman of character that was instilled in you at a very young age. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Dear Penny, . . . that word you use--"content"--is essential. For myself, it means so much more than the word "happiness." To be content is to live, I believe, in the moment. To be aware of the gift of today. And you do that all the time. Peace.

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  15. I'm the opposite - I've tended to "stay put" both in terms of geography and in jobs. It's only now that I am "sprinting" on this road trip. I look forward though, to a time when I can once again settle down, though I am trying to allow myself to be presnt on this journey and open to the experiences. I've asked my angels to guide me to my new home and when I find it I will know it.

    We went to Aruba on vacation for more than 20 years and loved it. That must have been the Esso folks you interviewed with? Of course Esso's heyday is gone now, and there is much integration of the Dutch and Aruban cultures. We no longer go, but I have fond memories.

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    1. Dear Melissa, I stayed put in Stillwater for thirty-six years! Peace.

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  16. p.s. I prefer the word content to happy too. It implies an inner peace.

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    1. Dear Melissa, yes, inner peace.

      Peace to you now and always.

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  17. Dee, I had to chuckle when I read that you chose not to take a job because you'd have to wear a veil. Back in the late 70s when the announcement was made that the veil was optional for us, mine was off my head and in the trash can within minutes!

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    1. Dear Sr. Ann Marie, I do so understand! I was so inept at pinning it on each day and not hitting the skull! Peace.

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