Myself, Divided

I wake up at 6:30. I head straight to the kitchen to make a fresh batch of coffee with the French press. While the grounds steep, I head back down the hall to my bedroom and put on my uniform- green tactical pants, a tan button up with big patches on both sleeves, heavy work boots, and a black belt that I’ve had to punch new holes into because I’ve lost 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. I head back to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee with creamer and then head outside to sit on the backstep of the house I am renting from the state. In the summer, I drink my coffee watching ants crawling around in the morning sun. There are massive ravens circling overhead.

At 7:30 I walk a quarter of a mile to the office, a small room inside a barn that has been standing since the 1800s, to start my day of work. If it’s an average day, I’ll walk about 8 miles as I perform my work tasks. Until 6:30, I will be giving tours, covering coworker lunches, answering visitor questions, and helping to maintain a park located at an elevation of 8,375 feet, 13 miles off the main highway. From May to August I work as a park aide in a state historic park that is renowned for being one of the best preserved ghost towns in America. 

During my off season (the week before fall classes until my last spring final), I live half an hour outside of one of the biggest cities in the world. My hometown alone has a population of nearly 40,000 people. If I lean far enough out my window, I could probably give my neighbor a high five. The nearest Taco Bell is five stop lights away. In the summer, I live in a town where the population is about 20 people. If I’m craving Taco Bell, which I always am, I have to drive across state lines. The drive would be about two hours long, and I would wind up in the closest major city, which has a population of 55,000 people. With the change of setting comes a change of lifestlye and a change of self. Kind of. 

For the past two years I have lived a life that seems to be divided between coasts; there’s the California me and New York me. The California me has not a single care in the world. She likes bouldering and collecting garnets on hikes. She dances around at work and can say she loves her coworkers. The New York me would rather stay home than go out. She is reserved both in class and at work, and truthfully, she probably couldn’t even tell you her coworkers’ full names, let alone say she loves any of them. Feeling like your life is divided across a nation is a weird way to exist. I feel like I am leading two lives, and there are two unique versions of myself; lately I’m starting to ask myself “Which version is really me?”.

That’s a really heavy question to ponder. Am I always that carefree, outgoing girl that I feel I am from May to August, or am I just that way for a few months so I can survive in an isolated place with a small community? Am I the girl that’s more reserved, outgoing only when optimal? Is it possible to be both? Some days I am so sure I am one or the other. Maybe I am neither. Both have their pros and cons.

I think that’s the hardest part about living in the high desert- when you come back down to sea level, you don’t know what’s real. I came back home this summer and in the limited free time I had before classes started up again, I got rid of nearly all of my possessions. A week later I officially broke up with my significant other of almost five years. Now I want everything I had thrown away back. I guess I made those decisions as the California girl, who liked different things and new people, and now the New York girl has to pay the consequences. 

What makes it harder is that everyone around me seems to know who they are. While I’m gone, away being someone else, they continue to build upon who they have always been. There’s the outgoing boy who decided to build upon his personality and join a fraternity. There’s the girl who was born to be a teacher and every day she gets further to fulfilling that role. Then there’s me- just landed after months of being Virginia 2.0. Stuck in a limbo.

Maybe no one is sure who they are, deep down. Maybe you yourself aren’t sure at the moment. It's okay though, because you aren’t alone. I don't know who I am either, so I'll be unsure with you.

Now that I’m in the off season, I wake up whenever my body is ready to. That’s the perk of having late classes. I’ll make coffee in the coffee pot, and when it’s done I’ll bring it back to my room so I can drink it while get ready for the day. My “uniform” usually consists of a pair of blue jeans, a graphic tee, that same belt and those heavy work boots from the summer. A lot of times think about how my friends on the west are still sleeping while my town is already bustling. There’s no ants rushing around, but there are business people running to catch the train at the end of my block. Sometimes my mind will drift as I make my own commute, contemplating the divide. Maybe this cycle of being a New Yorker and a Californian will always continue. Maybe I’ll not know exactly who I am forever. Maybe I’ll be like the ravens I watch in the summer- constantly moving in circles.