Friday, February 12, 2010

Crossing Over (not the skating kind)

My life right now can be neatly divided into three parts, with very little crossover between them: work, home, and derby. Which is not to say that they don't affect one another - I'm just saying that no one I know takes up more than one category in my life right now.

No one I work with hangs out with me outside of work, and obviously, no one I hang out with outside of work will ever see me AT work (because... well, it's work). No one from work or derby so far has hung out with me at home (not that I invite anyone over - it's always a huge mess of baby bottles and Kleenex and my dogs are crazy).

But see here - I would LOVE for people at work to come to a derby bout. I know a few of my work friends are waiting to actually see me play, but who knows when that will be? So why don't they come to watch one with me? (Jimmy and John have been to a couple, so I'm not complaining about the home front, and I think my parents would be terrified.)

I feel like I am falling in love with roller derby and it's transforming me, and no one cares. I have never felt so strong, so empowered, so alive, and so... MYSELF. But it's like this whole other part of my life that no one truly knows about. I mean, they know I'm doing bootcamp (how could they not? I talk about it constantly, especially online), but do they really KNOW? Do they understand and appreciate what it means to me? I'm becoming a completely different person right under their noses. This is totally turning into a Superman/Clark Kent situation.

So, I'm a little bitter. But I also recognize that it's not necessarily a justifiable bitterness either. My relationships with my work friends are different from what they used to be - I became much more of a hermit when I was pregnant, and started holing up in my classroom more. How can I expect them to care about my life when I totally give the impression that I don't care about theirs? (I do care! I just... like to hide.)

Also, as much as our job dominates the rest of our lives (the constant barrage of grading, the required "good behavior" even when we're off the clock, etc), teachers do like to separate out their work from the rest of their lives because... that's how we stay sane. Some people have jobs that they can leave behind at work, but we don't... so we have to work extra hard to keep that unaffected part of our lives unaffected.

Also, we just don't have a lot of time to socialize. All of my work friends are older than me. (The coworkers that are my age or younger, I'm not really friends with them.) They all have their own spouses, families, and households to run. So I feel bad making demands on their time, when clearly other things are more important. So my work friends are just that. WORK friends. But I wish they could be my friends without any additional qualifiers or descriptors.

But goddammit. I'm experiencing a total personal revolution here. I have had so much trouble finding my inner strength these past few years, and derby is finally helping me come out of my haze. This isn't just a hobby I'm picking up... it's a total life change, for the better. Other than when I'm with my daughter, there is no other time when I feel more amazing than when I'm flying on my wheels. Literally, I feel like I can fly when I'm skating. And I feel so proud of myself when I complete a really difficult drill and when I feel my muscles are learning a new skill. I'm so happy when I'm at derby practice - no matter how tired or ill I feel, even as I'm gearing up, the second my wheels hit the light blue floor, the weight on my shoulders lifts and I'm a completely new person. My personality hasn't changed - I'm not any crazier or louder. I don't act different, but I feel different. It's frustrating to feel my life completely turning around, and to have no one notice or care.

I feel bad being bitter, because I think I am being a little unfair. But I also feel bad, period, because it's pretty lonely leading a compartmentalized life.


As far as the derby girls, I'm still getting to know them. I'm hoping I will find some that I really click with, who will be my friends even outside the rink. (That really seems to be the case with the girls who have already been in the league for a while.) There are derby events constantly, so I have no shortage of opportunity to hang out with them. We're still in that tenuous stage where we don't really know who's going to make the team and stick around, and who isn't. Besides, a lot of us are drawn towards derby in the first place because we do need that time away from everything else in our lives.

Okay, so maybe I am being unfair to my work friends. You can't force two of your friends to be friends with each other if they have nothing in common except for you. And especially if you're no longer particularly close to one of them, and the other one is still very new. It's a shaky relationship at best, and difficult to navigate.

And in the middle of it all is my home life. I feel like I don't spend enough time with Jolie, actually. I work all day, come home for a few hours, and then go to derby. By the time I come home, she's already asleep, and I'm getting ready for bed. On the weekends, her grandparents beg to take her. So it often comes to pass that I don't get much time at home with just her and me. (Usually it's me, her, and a bunch of other people.) And that's the most important thing. I have next week off from work, so I'm TOTALLY looking forward to taking care of her all day like I used to.

I don't have any solutions. I don't even know exactly what I want. Maybe to feel as awesome outside of the rink as I do inside of it? To have my work friends cheer me on and support me the way my fellow bootcampers do? I've known my work friends for four years, and I've known my bootcampers for four weeks... and I feel more loved at derby practice than I do anywhere else in my life except for when I see my daughter's eyes after a long day of being away.

But maybe that's the culture we're dealing with. To be a successful team (in any sport), you have to back each other up and be there for each other. To be a successful teacher, yes, you have to be able to collaborate with each other, but in the end, it's just you in your classroom, and the bells ring, and the periods go by, and everyone decompresses at lunch by talking about work, but unless you're SUPER close with someone, you don't really talk about much else.

I would love to see my work friends become more than just work friends. And I would love for them to experience derby, whether or not I'm playing, because it's turning out to be a crucial influence in my life. Outside of work, home, and derby, I don't have very many other friends (there's Becca, who IS trying to make it to the March 6th bout!), so the people that I do have are ever so important to me, and I wish they knew that. Maybe one day, all the parts of my life will crossover, just like my feet, and I will be able to finally  navigate life's turns with fluidity and grace.

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