I start biting my nails again the week we break up, and so ends my first real attempt to quit the habit—and my first real boyfriend—in more than five years.

Back in the classroom, things get easier and while there are still nights I fall asleep before 9pm, mornings I wake up before 4am, and days that feel like endless failures, there is also rigor and projects and modifications and leadership positions. And joy.

After three weeks of radio silence, I talk to the English boy again today. He has an interview for a job in his hometown that he’s not sure about and no plans to come to America, though he’s still “not sure” how he feels about our terminated future. His eyes look sad and I tell him this before launching into a story about how amazing my students are. I see my excitement reflected in him for a second, and I think that I am in the right place.

Let’s be clear: I am still struggling. Things are far from easy both professionally and personally but I don’t actually think that ever was—or ever will be—a goal in my life. And in all honesty, I’m not even sure how I would feel if he told me we could take it all back. I tell myself we are in the greyest of grey areas, but in reality I need to start admitting that we don’t even have an area anymore.

When we hang up, I let out only one sob before struggling on.


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