I went to class again last night.

With each evening I spend there, I am continually surprised, both by the optimism these young women have about our society and with the naivete they display. They are so composed that I often forget most of them are just about 18, less than a year out of high school. Two of the girls last night detailed their plans for their futures: Tanya, a tough-talking Dominican girl from Jersey City, insisted that she would reach the pinnacle of her professional career before starting a family. (She later told me that out of her large group of friends, she is one of only five girls who doesn’t have a baby.) Sasha, a curious and outspoken young black woman, explained that her father is an OB/GYN – she knows how many things can go wrong with a pregnancy that occurs later in life, and so she plans to take a year off from vet school around age 26 so she can have her baby before she’s 27.

I popped my hand up in the air and said, “I think it’s great that you’re making plans, but just remember that sometimes things happen outside of your plans.” I explained how I had Jacob at 22, even though his father and I hadn’t planned to have children for several years. I told them that I never expected to be 28, divorced, a single mom responsible for being the head of my household and providing for my 5-year-old son on my own. Now, granted, I’m not really on my own: Jacob’s father is still in the picture, my parents are a constant source of support where Jacob is concerned, and my friends have all chipped in to help me out when I need them for just about anything. I have the most amazing support network in the world. But my point to the girls last night was that things happen, lives change, the universe throws kinks into our plans, and we have to adapt accordingly.

Of course that got me thinking about my life over the past three years, and I thought about my blog. When I started blogging over at JournalSpace, I was unhappy, desperately trying to figure some things out about my life. I spent a lot of time thinking about myself, about my mental health, about my value as a person, a poet, a friend, a mother, a wife. I was looking, I think, for some sort of validation that I was ok, that I was a good person. I think most of the blogging I did at JournalSpace was self-centered, focused on making myself feel / appear better. I think it was sort of necessary for a time, although probably a bit unhealthy.

When I decided to leave JournalSpace in October and start over here, I couldn’t really explain why. I had just a really strong urge to stop using that blog. Today, I can’t explain it much better, although I think I felt like the JS blog was keeping me in some sort of unhealthy skin, like I was marinating in my own negative energy. I feel quite a bit better here, much less self-focused. I don’t know – maybe other people don’t see it that way. But I certainly don’t feel like I’m thinking all the time about whether or not I’m crazy.

As I packed up my things last night after class, Tanya and Sasha waited for me. On the way out of the classroom and down the hall, they quizzed me: Why did you come back to school? How old were you when you got married? When you got divorced? Are you happy now?

Yes, I told them. I am happy now. And for the first time since December 2005, I didn’t feel like I was lying when I said that.

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