After a month of what other people have been calling my "retirement" and I have been calling my transition to life as a full-time writer, I just made the decision to un-retire. I've accepted an offer to return to my visiting professorship at DePauw University for the spring semester.
When I set foot in Greencastle last week, I fell back in love, so hard, so fast. I kept thinking of the Dolly Parton song I used to listen to back when I had a complicated love life, many decades ago: "Here you come again, looking better than a body has a right to. And shaking me up so, that all I really know, is here you come again - and here I go...." The little town of Greencastle (pop. 10,000), the idyllic campus of DePauw (even under construction), the walk through the Nature Park to the pristine and peaceful Prindle Institute, hugs from colleagues, late night talks with my former housemate Julia. . . . it all looked better than any place on earth has a right to. It shook me up so, the intensity of the longing to be there again.
It all happened so fast. I went so quickly from "Gee, it's great to be back here," to "Wow, I really would like to teach here again some time," to "Do you think you might ever have a use for me in the future?" to "Next spring? Let me think for a second or two. . . why, YES!"
I'll be teaching children's literature in the English department, Rousseau in the philosophy department, and throwing myself once again into all Prindle Institute for Ethics activities. I'll reside with Julia and her darling kindergartner, Alex. And I'll be living in the same state as my sister for the first time since our childhood.
I already have pangs at the thought of leaving my sweet Boulder life yet again - my family, my friends, my church, my world. But I'll come back for Kataleya's first birthday in February, for spring break in March, for Gregory's graduation in May.
And I have to admit that so far I haven't liked being a full-time writer as much as I thought I would. A lifelong pattern of writing for only an hour a day (a pattern which allowed me to write and publish 50 books) is hard to break. I thought I might be able to make myself write at least two hours a day, but I just didn't seem to be able to. I wasn't completing any more pages than when I worked full time. And while I did fill the rest of my days with considerable fun, I had just as much fun before. It turns out that I'm happier when I'm busy.
Maybe a month wasn't a fair try of my new life. That's hardly time to get the opening scenes of Act III to be playing out as they should. In any case, I've said yes to DePauw, and I feel excited. I'll still need to figure out the full-time writing life someday, but I'll tackle that later.
For now, my new mantra for myself is: "Do not go gentle into that good pasture." With this decision to return to teaching for one last (?) semester, I'm feeling my oats.
I'm feeling downright frisky.