After 25 years, I think I'm beginning to feel like a person again-- a real human being. Not a representative or a symbol; not a token or a "diverse" person or "multicultural." I'm not fighting any battles, championing any causes, mentoring "colored people" from various places and at various stages of their student, faculty or staff careers. I don't have to speak for the untenured or for students who have been leveled by the unexpected ravages of racism, sexism or homophobia. I just get to be me, Margaret, whoever that is. I've worn this mantle so long that I'm not quite sure who I am without it. What I do know is that it's been a long time since I've felt so free; even longer since I've had the opportunity to refrain from speaking or entering the fray. That's what my impending retirement has given me. I get to keep the best part of my job--teaching and students--and leave the rest behind.
As I go through each day, I feel the load lighten. I lose the baggage of unkind people and unpleasant relationships. I lose the leeches, who suck the blood and life, and once they've used you up, they move on. I lose those who take and refuse to give in return. I've gained a beautiful "queer family" that envelops me with love and laughter and caring--men and women who simply enjoy being together, preparing and eating food, loving life. There are days that I feel like Saul, scales falling from my eyes; seeing--really seeing for the first time. I'm finally creating a life here--one that bears little resemblance to what I've experienced for the 11 years I've been here this time.
I'm about to leave for a great adventure--a 4 month voyage on a floating campus. I'm so excited; I'm so scared. I'll miss my family desparately. My partner, Mrs. B., in particular. We've never been apart for longer than 3 weeks, but this is something I need to do. The sea restores and cleanses; it rejuvenates the soul and the spirit. This adventure requires a blog of its own.