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.
“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?
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:
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.