Sunday, July 11, 2010

No Man Is An Island

We all need other people in our lives. No man is an island, as John Donne would say.

I am someone who loves isolation. I am an introvert, though you can't tell when I'm teaching. It's been a theme in my life since I can remember. I liked my older siblings but they didn't always want to play with me, nor I with them. So when I didn't have another little friend, I was always just fine playing by myself. When we lived in Eureka, California when I was very little, I'd hide in the closet and hang out for hours. I've just always been very self-sufficient. I remember when I was in kindergarten. I overheard my mom talking to her husband and saying that there wasn't going to be anyone home when I got out of school the next day. I'm sure they worked out some arrangement, but I didn't hear that part. Instead, I got off two stops early from my normal bus stop, and checked myself into a daycare. That's where kids go when their parents aren't home, right?

When I got older, I became a latch-key kid in second grade. I got home from school before my sisters. I wore a key around my neck and let myself into the house, made a sandwich and watched television until someone else got there. And in high school I had my own car and we lived pretty far out of town.

As an adult, I moved from Washington to Las Vegas, and lived there for two years. We left, not because of the desert but for the teeming mass of people- people I never learned to trust. I don't think I made a single friend outside of my boyfriend in that time. So we moved to Oklahoma and I got married and divorced.

Norman became my home and I thought it would be much like all of the other places I've lived in my vagabond life- another stopping place on the way to somewhere else. I attended a dojo in Tulsa for 7 years and the Hargraves are some of the neatest people I've had the privilege of calling friends. I met Dr. Diane Holt-Reynolds there and she became my mentor. I met Janis Cramer and she helped me become a teacher. And I made friends at the College of Education and at OCCC. I mentored other teachers and taught students and bought a house. Cathy Klasek helped me move in. Hell, she picked it out and made me talk to the owner. I wouldn't have bought a house without her help.

It was my friends who sent me off to Washington with best wishes and welcomed me home with open arms. I remember when I went to tell my Grandma that I was going to move back to Oklahoma. She didn't even let me get that far. She said, "I know you are unhappy here. Go back home to Oklahoma where people love you." And then we both had a good cry.

It's people like Luke who pull me back from the ledge when I get all wound up about the state of the world today. I have to pull back and sometimes I can't do that on my own. Plus my friends make me laugh. We meet for coffee or conversation or class or what have you, maybe a dog walk. Usually one on one, because crowds aren't much of my thing. I have a couple of good friends that I have only known online. But that's why the telephone and internet were invented.

All of these people form my family unit. I rely on them to keep me sane and healthy. I do the same for them. I help when I can. It's not natural, though, to ask for emotional support from another person. When I was growing up, reliance on anyone but yourself wasn't such a good idea and it usually led to disappointment and disillusion. After awhile, you learn not to lean. But I can learn.

I'm not an island. You're not an island either. We need each other, even though we're not always at our best. In fact, that's when we need each other the most.


  1. I realize that in a lot of ways I barely know you, but it wasn't rocket surgery to realize you were unhappy in Washington and that Oklahoma is your home. I didn't realize the extent of your misery until I read about your experiences teaching at the prison, but I did encourage you to run back to Oklahoma as quickly as possible because, all things combined, there was nothing here that was enriching your life, even if you were "where you need to be at the moment."

    I'm very glad you are back among the majority of the folks who love you and care for you and whom you both love and care for. You're home, and that's where you should be.

  2. I'm glad you're back in Oklahoma, where girls talk to each other in the bathroom. You belong here with us, Okie girl.

  3. I'm glad to be home, Janis. <3