A few years ago, I made the decision to return back to the state where I grew up in. The decision was made by an increasing need to enjoy time with my immediate family, which grows more precious as we grow older. I was in California at the time and did not have the money to fly home, interview, and then move home. I had to find a job that was going to take a chance on me with just a phone interview. After a lot of trying, it happened. It was not my dream job. I had sworn after my first few jobs in the field, that I was done working with adolescents. I worked hard to find ways to get myself excited about it. I remember my dad telling me, “You just have to love them like they’re all yours.’ I’ve spent three Christmas’ at this job. I’ve gotten to know countless families. Some kids flutttered into my life and left just as quickly, while others seemed to take up a permanent residency in my heart. Working with teenagers will never be easy. The majority of them are told they have to be there, their insight is often limited, few have hit the ‘bottom,’ they need to start to see that change is a necessity in all of our lives. I’ve written on here about how fascinating it was to work with teenagers again after not working with them for probably a decade or so. It was a lot different culturally then the group I worked with just out of college, but I too was different. I was the older, wiser therapist, among younger, fresh graduates and interns, to whom they were naturally drawn to due to being closer in age; however, those individuals often weren’t able to soothe them, elicit change in them, and bring what experience does. Unless they were just there for a few days and dropped out, the ones who stayed grew to have a place in my heart. I worried about them when I was not there. I thought about them when I was out and about and saw something they had talked about. They shared movies that will become their generations classics, and I showed them a few of my own generation’s classics. Eventually though, everything inside of me began to say, ‘it’s time for your next chapter.’ It’s strange how our ‘gut instinct,’ starts dropping hints. Perhaps it was my fourtieth birthday looming around the corner or feeling like I had worn out what I could do in the role, but I knew I needed a change. The thing about change is, it’s exciting up until the minute it happens. It then becomes extremely anxiety provoking. The job was mostly ‘easy,’ except when crisis hit, and I was blessed with an exceptional team of co-workers, which makes any job more enjoyable. The days went be incredibly fast; however, I found myself in ‘survival,’ or ‘comfort’ mode. While it’s a place to be for a period of time, it’s not somewhere you want to stay forever. When I began looking, it seemed uncertain if I was ready to change. I seemed disinterested in a lot of things that were out there in my field and there was some doubt that I even wanted to stay in the field. Eventually, I found something different enough to make me look twice. I ended up taking the job. In the month or so since I gave notice, I just continued working pretty much up until yesterday (as if nothing was changing). Today is my last day and that means everything is about to change. I am optimistic this is the right thing to do. I walked into the situation knowing there would be a lot of pauses from the day I gave notice until the day I walk into my new position next Tuesday; however, I also understand that growth is essential to who we are. When we lose our hunger, we can have everything in the world and nothing will feed or nourish us. There are many poems about good-byes I’ve written over the years. I’ve had many beginnings and endings. The poem I chose to share though was a poem I wrote for a collection I started writing. It ended up being mostly about dealing with my mom having cancer; however, when I wrote the poem, that was unknown to me. I decided I wanted to write a poem called “Ending,” and put it as the first poem in the book, without any knowledge of where the journey was going to take me. Today as I end. I also begin. The cycle continues, and I am excited to see where the journey takes me.
I will start with the word begin.
Light always meets dark in this world.
Birds leave and come back to places of origin.
There is rubble where great churches once lived.
Prayers crumble in time.
Hearts are like birds sometimes,
They flee from one human spirit to rest in another’s chest.
Eyes have left someone else for me.
My lips have left someone else for you.
We are constantly like sinking boats, something is always leaking into us.
That water… That sea…
Is the very substance that floated us for so long.
We must not be quick too damn it.
It held us up and carried us to the place where our soul ports now.
Below much of water’s surface are mountains that never get the glory of the world seeing their peak,
They stay dormant. Ok with being hidden part
Of the architecture of this great world. We
All have those underwater peaks. Below the surface-
Terrains quiet and unknown,
Our past submerged. Still,
They are so very much a part of our landscape.
Things change and time plants longing inside us.
They are not weeds but flowers planted in the wrong place at at the wrong time.
Even when we are soothed and excited,
Spreading joy like rainfall on a damp earth.
We bend down to smell those flowers buried within us
That grow on those mountains covered by beautiful lakes.
They remind us what we have endured has defined what we have become.
We smell our roots and follow our whispers to far off things
That once felt so near.
My name might not fill your mouth anymore,
But I take pride
That my quiet hands held yours
And my quiet lips sang to you.