I will be the first to admit that this past semester has been rough. PhD work is hard, and it’s not an easy (albeit pajama-clad) lifestyle that I have chosen. I’ve done a lot of struggling since September, but I’ve never, for a single moment, looked back. All of this has been with the certainty that I’m doing the right thing, I’m exactly where I need to be, and if my confidence wavered at times (and you, loyal readers, can attest that it has) it was never with a deeply imbued sense of wrongness, simply a general feeling of inadequacy.
But this weekend, something occurred which made me cross that line. Something occurred that forced me to reevaluate my life choices. Something occurred which made me believe that perhaps I had not made the correct decision. Perhaps I should never have moved to Massachusetts. Perhaps this wasn’t what I needed to be doing with my life.
On Saturday, for the first time ever, I had to shovel out my own driveway.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, you may gasp in awe that my twenty-five year-old self has never had to accomplish something so mundane, but recall that for the first twenty-odd years of my life, I was a New Yorker. You don’t have cars in Manhattan (unless you’re crazy). I did do a brief stint in Massachusetts between grad school and my undergrad, but both occasions situated me somewhere comfortably where the driveway was someone else’s responsibility.
My driveway is fairly heavily sloped as I do park in a garage beneath my house; so not only was I shoveling, but I was shoveling uphill. Both ways. In the snow.
And as I stood shivering, knee-deep in drifts, that was when I first began to question the choices that had led me to this place. I could have chosen many other places in the country to make my academic home. I could have gone to California. Or Florida. Or somewhere where there is no snow. Or somewhere where the driveway, once more, wasn’t my responsibility.
Of course, then I wouldn’t be living in a gorgeous apartment with wonderful friends, a fireplace, and Jerry, but somehow in that moment these things seemed small to me. Small prices to pay for not having to freeze my fingers off before I could go anywhere. Small concessions to make for the ability to not have to worry about potential multiple shovelings given heavy snowfall. Oh so small.
I have already, of late, succumbed to the pangs of homesickness. As I have said time and again, Boston’s great but it ain’t New York. This little incident simply drove home the fact that Dorothy has left her driveway-free Kansas. And, as much as I love my car, I absolutely hate being cold.
…I knew the honeymoon had to end eventually.