I meant to write a few days after the last entry, again last week, again during the weekend. But I did not. Funny thing about that. Not writing, that is. Use it or lose it. How many abilities, gifts, talents is that true for? On a day like today, it feels like everything! Today, the ability to catch a thought, to fashion a phrase and to punctuate is a labor like getting on the treadmill months after the last gym visit. Use of imagination, like a good run, will take warming up for a few days. Or weeks.
I worked with Julia on an argumentative essay on Death of a Salesman. Topic was the American Dream, compare and/or contrast two characters. I urged her to choose Happy, Willy’s second son, and Bernard, next door neighbor who becomes a lawyer. Both characters are less complicated than Willy or Biff, and I was aiming to guide her through a simple comparison. The structure guidelines sent home reminded me of how much I disliked high school English. No, that’s wrong. I liked the reading and discussing but I did not do well learning scholastic essay style and I couldn’t teach divided parallel thesis, universal hooks, arguable topic sentences and transitions to topic, theme, motif and character. I could not juggle content which itself was challenging for her to figure out and the demands of the essay style. I thought my simplifications and her 2-page essay were pretty good but her teacher wanted more. More analysis and analysis that actively used the quotes she had chosen. He commented that her divided parallel thesis sentence was passive and to change it around. She had no idea what that meant. The verbs were not passive. I had no idea. I could help her with the technical corrections—embedded quotes and punctuation—but the tools for drawing deeper analysis from Julia are not mine. One of the options with the essay corrections was to ask the teacher to meet and work with her. And so, she did.
This is not to say that every bit of what she was supposed to do was not taught in class and that many in class took notes about what they were taught. Her notes are usually on the wrong part of what is being explained and if I had learned this so many, many years ago, I have completely blocked it out.
The weight of the possibility of my decision to move to Boston is heavy. And at the same time, it feels like the decision has already been made and I am on my way. I have spent the holidays — Thanksgiving to Chanukah to Solstice and Christmas — nostalgic for what I have, for the very things I am doing. I have a running commentary in my head about all the last times — last time I will decorate this house, last turkey, last winter holiday baking in my ‘perfect’ kitchen, our last gingerbread house making at FUS. A friend commented that she missed me already and I felt only a great thud in my soul that although words have come out of my mouth — “I will miss the community that I have in Madison” — the words have not made it to my heart. The prospect is haunting and yet for the chance to live close enough to Cheshire to really be a family of three, for the chance to strengthen the bonds between Julia and Cheshire, the chance to start Julia’s transitioning to adulthood in a place where she can be supported by both Cheshire and me, I am almost sure it is worth the grieving for what we will lose.
I have moved a number of times in my adult life — East Village to Brooklyn to Bloomington to Indianapolis to Madison. Each time there has been bitter sweetness, adventure and sadness. Some of the reasons for moving seems so small now, so easy and almost not fully considered. This one feels bigger and harder to wrap my head around. This will be the first time since I decided after college to move to NYC, that I have the full weight of the decision.
Julia began taking Strattera last weekend. It is a non-stimulant medication used to treat symptoms of ADHD including distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It works differently than the stimulant medication that she has taken for years, and it will take up to 6 weeks before I see and she feels any changes. It is also not as universally effective as the stimulant meds and it will take up to 2 months to judge whether it is helping at all. The dosage needs to be built up slowly because of the possibility of side effects. On one tablet a day, Julia has not apparent side effects. According to her body weight, she need 3 pills a day for optima results.
The confusion which is transitioning Julia to the adult long term care program is a fog beginning to lift. Paperwork for us, with Julia now signing anticipating her adult status next month, as well as for our respite workers is piling up. I have no answers to many questions asked of Julia and I. I remind myself that I did not have all the answers to set up Cheshire’s life when she was 18 either. However, the questions are still asked of Julia — where will she live? What will she do? How much of her life will she control? Can she control? I let myself get lost in an overwhelm for awhile and now, I am answering one question at a time, in the best way that I can, today. I can’t possibly answer about tomorrow, next year or in ten year. Being here, now, is not how government programs work but it is what I can do. Here. And now.
Julia tried out for a solo in choir two weeks ago and last week she auditioned for the school musical. And she came home and told me about both. I don’t think she will get a solo in the concert on Wednesday and she probably will not get cast in the musical but the moxie is impressive. And basketball cheering started last Friday.
And so, I have at the very least written these paragraphs. Not skillfully and not at all quickly. Still it is satisfying.