I finally found a job, though it's not at the local school that I was hoping for. I'm going to teach full-time at a school in Small Town, Tennessee. Based on the online research I've done so far, the town is a lot like my Midwestern hometown, which I spent eighteen years wanting to escape from.
I wanted to stay in Chicago for at least one more year and teach at one of the local colleges. I also planned to spend more time on my academic research and try to get at least one article published and make one presentation at an academic conference.
But recently a school down South called and offered me a job that I had applied for a while ago. I applied to teach at schools all over the country and was rejected by most of them. Apparently, hundreds of positive evaluations from my students and several years of teaching experience do not matter nearly as much as published articles that might as well be titled "How to Make Yourself Sound Like a Pompous Know-It-All in 500 Words Or Less." But I digress.
I had to make a decision about the job right away, because the fall term is starting next month. I wanted to hold out for the local school, but they couldn't give me an answer yet. So what was I supposed to do: accept a job in an unfamiliar town halfway across the country or hold out for a job that I wanted but might not even get?
My professors were unanimous in their advice. "Go to Tennessee," they said. "It's time for you to move on. Teaching there for a year or two will show other schools that you have experience teaching at urban schools and rural ones and that you're willing to move. This will make it easier for you to get another job."
My parents, of course, were thrilled. They've been pressuring me to leave Chicago for years. They know that I love it here, but that doesn't matter because it's not the place that they want me to live in. Small Town, Tennessee is within driving distance of their home (though not in the same state), which means that they can see me more often. One phone call from them is enough to stress me out for the rest of the day, so I'm not happy at the prospect of moving closer to them.
They've also informed me that they will come with me to Small Town to "help" me move, which means dictating what kind of car I should get, what kind of furniture I should buy (even though I'm paying for this), which stores I should go to, etc., etc. I told them that I can handle it myself, but they're coming anyway. But I will NOT let them control all (or ANY) of the decisions I make.
I took a walk down Michigan Avenue recently. There was a guy marching up and down the sidewalk carrying a sign that said, "REPENT SINNERS" and yelling that everyone was going to hell. I nearly bumped into someone playing a ukulele and singing "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga. Another guy looked at my chest and said, "Hi, boobies."
Sirens blared, horns honked, and people called out to each other across the street in several different languages. I looked at everything and thought, This is home. This is the one place in the world that I've always loved. This is where I want to be.
But I don't have a choice. I owe thousands of dollars in student loans. I only have enough money to pay my rent through August. I knew that I would have to leave Chicago eventually, because with a Ph.D. in English, I have to go where the work is. I just didn't think I would have to leave so soon.
What about you? Have you ever made a difficult choice regarding your employment? Have you ever made a cross-country move?
Side note: I might not be able to respond to everyone's comments until later this week, due to issues with moving, but I promise I'll respond!
Interview with… Adam Byatt - Today it’s the turn of Adam Byatt to sit down and share his writing with us. This is my 13th interview, and there are still some wonderful authors to come!...
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