This I Believe

Melisa - Jamison, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Ice and the Resurrection

I always found it fascinating that the center of hell according to Dante was cold. Sartre expressed hell as being locked in a room for all eternity with annoying people. I can appreciate the truth these writings express. Hell in life, as I have discovered, is to be frozen in a path that is unfulfilling and no exit seems possible.

When I graduated from college, I figured that I would work for a while until I clarified what I wanted to do. At 29 when my co-workers were enthusiastically discussing their career-path, I was snickering to myself thinking, “this job is a career?!” That’s when I knew something was wrong. I was trapped in hell, in a limbo of uncertainty of when and how I would figure out my career-path. I had to experience, to endure, and to overcome each ring on my own.

At 29, I also was completely, assuredly, and unwillingly single. I was afraid of what this said about me and of how I was perceived. I was becoming the living embodiment of my worst fear – a single woman “of a certain age” who is unmarried and has a cat. Maybe I could even further the stereotype and become a spinstery teacher. All that I needed were the comfortable shoes and the severely pulled-tight bun and my nightmare would be complete. I needed to figure out how to make life happen for me instead of to me.

This was about the time that I decided to join my sister in Italy for two weeks to backpack. We quested for delicious inexpensive food, stayed in pensiones where the mosquitoes feasted on us, perspired in the most indelicate ways, and made social gaffes in awkward arenas like the Vatican. In the journey to understand my new surroundings, I found myself again. I had found “the way, the truth, the light.” (Dante) I had found a joy in life that I hadn’t realized had ebbed away from me until I experienced it again in Italy. I had found that life’s blood was the challenge of trying to figure out how to make things happen…you know, “dove es the bathroom?” I was resurrected. I was beginning to thaw.

Within six months of my trip to Italy, I had quit my job, rented out my apartment, and had been accepted to graduate school to become a teacher. I whittled down my life to the most important elements to me: the love of the written word, doing something for the greater good, and having the ability to travel. As long as I have lived true to these priorities, I have not been disappointed. I still snicker because in many ways I have become all that I feared. I am an English teacher, I have a cat, but I also have a dog that enjoys full-time summer frolicking with my family and me. I have even found the value in comfortable shoes. And occasionally I wear my hair in a bun.