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Today I played in one of the last petanque tournaments of the year, saw friends, won one and lost three, and had a great time. At 48, I'm one of the younger players, but I am just so grateful for this group of people. We are mostly older, calm, kind, giving and forgiving, and politely but determinedly competitive as hell. It's just nice, because it's a community. No one excludes other people, gossips too unkindly, and we all just live and let live. When I get settled into my new apartment, I hope to play more petanque. I just really love these people, and I need these people, and this kind of community in my life right now.

I know I should be online uploading my lesson plan, but FUCK IT. I am going to do it tomorrow night. Or at school, since I don't have to be available to cover classes next week. I will get it done; I'll be observed, and although I know I'm fearful of the whole process, since I was fucking ABUSED by Dr. No and Blackbelt Barbie, this is a much different school, with a much different administrator observing me. I am well-liked. It's just the fear of the past that is making me procrastinate a bit. I was upfront and direct with my administrator too; I told him I felt like the principal used the previous observation-on-steroids to bully me, and make me feel like I could never measure up. I'll get it done; I'll try my best, but it's still administrivia, bureaucrazy, and a pain in the ass.

But tonight I'm thinking much more about how to find my new normal. Last year, in one of our 9th grade meetings, a colleague and friend talked about "holding space". I had heard the phrase before, but it resonated. I kept thinking about it, and I kept on thinking how much I admired my colleague/friend for saying authoritatively and confidently that she was good at holding space. This was when Jack was in his last few months, so I stored the comment away for future use.

Now, I'm using it. I am actively holding space for myself. I realize I also very much held space for myself in my 20s, when I was creating a childfree identity, as a young woman from the South, just at the time when the internet was getting started. I was so grateful then for childfree email lists; they saved my sanity, and these lists also helped to hold space for all of us who were resisting pressure to have kids. Now I'm resisting pressure to date again and leap into a relationship. I'm single, so I must be available, right? WRONG! I am so emotionally unavailable, it is not even funny. And yet, I am emotionally available, to my family, my friends, to my petanque community, to hanging out with people and having really good, cool, deep and interesting discussions!

Life right now is just so busy, it's unbelievable. Saturday, November 5 was three months since Jack died. I've completed over 95% if not slightly more of his estate. I've gotten most of the money sorted! And that feels really, really great, and I am feeling very reassured. On top of this formal observation I have going on, I'm also in the middle of re-financing my condo, and getting some money thrown in to remodel it. I'm in the process of moving to a small apartment near work. I will be able to walk to and from work again! That will be such a blessing.

I'm also beginning to think of how I want this new chapter in my life to work out. I can't help but think that I'm only getting a taste of it, since so much of my life is already scheduled and structured. I'm also only getting a taste of what remodeling really will be. Yes, I'll continue to work for the next 7-10 years. I'll continue to travel, especially back to Louisiana, the older my dad gets, in order to maximize time with him. He's 86, and although I really can't believe it, he won't actually live forever, although I'll only believe it once he's gone. To me, he'll always be around, simply because he always has been. :)

And right now, I really can't do much else other than what I'm doing and what I've always done. I get up in the morning, go to work, go work out two or three times a week, come home and relax, then go to bed. And I do this five days a week. Weekends I try to do something fun, but lately that's been devoted to packing up to move, which while not exactly fun, is necessary. I've seen a movie or two, but that's been it. I played in a petanque tournament today, and will again on December 3. I'll go to the banquet as usual also, on the 12th, I believe. And the first moment I have free time, I'll be flying, as usual.

I feel like I won't really know what the new contours of my life will be like until I actually retire. Moving for at least a year will provide some new contours. I'll be much closer to a major shopping mall, within walking distance of a farmers' market and two great grocery stores, and within walking distance of a few other good stores. And there are lots of open spaces and places to walk in the new apartment complex. I guess my major concern is, do I really want to be more social, and can I be more social? I really don't think I can, nor do I want to.

All my life I've had only one or two best friends, and that was plenty. There were always lots of people I said hi to and spoke to, and that's still true today. S-- comes over and spends the night once a week, sometimes twice, and that's great. I see our housekeeper once a week, and she's a blessing and a treasure. I have learned, finally, to be on good terms with my students and not be such a slavedriver; it's also true that I'm under much less stress and pressure, and at a very much better school. So I interact with people all day long, which is useful and worthwhile, but I come home TIRED. I come home "talked out". I had to remind Jack of that quite a few times. He retired and was often home by himself all day, and wanted to talk when I came home; I, on the other hand, was talked out. We reached a good compromise of letting me rest for a bit. He always trusted me that I would come out of seclusion and talk to him, and I did.

I just know I'm a strong introvert. I have friends, and I'm grateful. I'm grateful that quite a few of Jack's friends became my friends, and are still my friends now after Jack is gone. That's not always true for surviving spouses, and I'm glad that as Jack got more and more home-bound, his friends became my friends. I do think Jack wanted that to happen; I know he wanted his friends to be mine for good. And I'm glad that Jack knew truly quality people!

I'm also okay with not being in constant contact with friends. I'm very, very okay with texting and seeing people's updates on Facebook. I really don't want to date, and I absolutely don't want to marry a third time. Dating to me seems like such a bother, and a production, usually with zero outcome at all, if not total disappointment. I've just been there, done that. Dating has changed, but I know I haven't. I would not even know how to date, having not done it in over 20 years! And while I don't definitively rule out a relationship like I definitively ruled out having kids -- you can give back men, and tell them to go away, and they will; kids are permanent -- I just need to hold space for myself right now. I need to live alone and learn to enjoy it, but that's actually pretty easy for me as an introvert. I do think that living in a small apartment will be much easier, especially on weekends. Having people all around me, and people being active around me, will be a good feeling. The place I'm moving to skews young, and there is definitely more energy there. Where I am now, it suited Jack and me. It is "a rather settled street" as one of the characters says in To Kill a Mockingbird. Right now, I need more life, more energy, more options.

I feel like what I need is to get used to living on my own, to see what I'm interested in. I live in Los Angeles, so there is always a ton of stuff to do. I just don't want to go out and spend money every night. Even if I had the budget, that's just not my style, not as a tired teacher! And I want to continue to be active and continue to lose weight. More later; it's getting late. It's good to get this out there in black and white; it helps me to see how my life is going.

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