There may come a time in your life when something changes.
Deep within you.
A fundamental shift.
Unlike so many writers, I am not a huge reader. I always read the required reading for school, and I have read the Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games series more times than I can count, but I don't relish books the way so many writers do--or at least they way I perceive they do. I have editor friends who challenge themselves to read fifty-two books a year (that's once a week, if you do the math)! But that's just not me.
That being said, I am in a book club and have enjoyed many good books in the last year and a half that I would not have otherwise picked up. One of those has stuck with me in the way that all English teachers dream of.
Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
It's a story of the Before. And then it's a story of the After.
As I closed the book following my first reading of it, I knew immediately what my Before and After was. Those who know me, know I hold a particular grudge against a certain European country.
My dorm room in France was tiny. The curtains smelled of rotten egg. It snowed my second day. I didn't make many friends. But the food was wonderful, the view of the Puy de Dome was spectacular, and the traveling was cheap. I still get lost in memories as I look through my souvenir post cards.
I didn't hate France. But it will forever be the setting of my ultimate shift.
Good friends. Busy schedule. Easy class load. A plan.
The plan fell to pieces.
And so did I.
Returning from France, I realized I had been subconsciously nixing my whole plan for the past six months. I didn't want to go back and live in France. I didn't want to work in International Something. I didn't want to keep studying the French language. Although I had finally figured out what I did want to study, I didn't have a plan to go with it.
And time was running out.
Thus began my After. The questions, the panics, the insecurities, the deadlines. I never saw them coming. It all weighed on me heavier than a cement block. It took a long time to learn how to plow through, finding a new stride that worked and taking the new changes with grace. I'm not done yet; it's shifted my whole self.
On Monday, I watched in horror as an F5 tornado ripped through my town. I live seven miles from houses that look like they've been processed through a blender, ready to be sprinkled over the world's largest salad. I personally know three sets of families who lost their homes. I lay awake at night now, still hearing the sirens that blared.
Maybe, there is more than one Before and After in a lifetime.
Brunch at Jimmy's Egg. Errands at Target. Date at the Warren. Graduation party in a back yard. Christmas movies at friends' house. Siren test at noon every Saturday.