I’m sitting here wishing I had something more profound to say than that I wish I had something profound to say.
But taking the moment to reflect – this original writing taking place in late Spring- there are things I need to document so that I can hang onto them, and remember the immense ways they’ve affected me.
Two years ago I was given the opportunity to accept a full-time Term Faculty of Television Production position at Seton Hall University of South Orange, New Jersey. The craziest part of the whole thing was that I had truthfully been *this* close to having to abandon teaching altogether- it simply wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t get a full-time job for quite some time, no matter how many applications I sent out, or who knew what person where. It was a brutal time. It was also an intense time- I had just had what was (to me) a bit of a scary eye surgery, which ultimately proved a catalyst in changing (for the better) so much of my body and how I operate in the world.
And then BOOM! Off on an adventure.
Three weeks- that was all the time there was to make moves. But somehow things all fell into place in one of those moments when the stars align.
A friend took my room at my Somerville address, and after scaring the pants off of a South Orange superintendent with my Boston realty aggression (“I’M WALKING OVER! IS IT STILL AVAILABLE?! DON’T GIVE IT TO ANYONE!”) I was off.
And I loved it.
I loved the green campus, my students, their vibe, and their openness to my crazy ideas. My colleagues at work were generous with their knowledge and time, and I genuinely enjoyed going to work every day. But contractually, the position wasn’t sustainable as much as I enjoyed it. And I decided that if it were possible to move to a more permanent situation, then that needed to happen. So I went on the job market, and after several interviews was welcomed by William Paterson University of Wayne, NJ, as their Assistant Professor of Video Production.
In order to take the job, while I didn’t have to move, I did need to get a car. And so after my mother’s extra Jeep breathed its last breath one day in the summer of 2018, taking with it my dreams of being the cool Jeep-driving professor (in my mind, anyway), I headed off to what remains the longest sustained argument of my entire life: The Car Dealership.
“So, ok. We’re willing to go less than $400. How do you feel about $385?”
“What? That’s like, two lattes, that’s nothing.”
“How about $384?”
And so on.
William Paterson is the 3rd most diverse University in the state, and I am so appreciative of my time with so many different students, voices and ideas. And endlessly grateful for the generosity and kindness that my colleagues shared during my time there. I learned a great deal about so many elements of higher education and had wonderful, genuine experiences that I will hold very close.
And what does one say about being given the opportunity to tirelessly explore New York City?
I truthfully didn’t know exactly what to make of The City the first ten or so times I visited- New York is immersive, raw energy; constant movement and hustle. In an ideal world I think you’d take it on with a strong sense of self, but more likely it assists you in finding yourself.
The immensity of it and endless areas to investigate provided an incredibly enriching two years. There were moments in the bustle of Manhattan where I felt completely understood yet completely alone simultaneously. And with the realization that both could be true, I found myself peeled away and rebuilt- remaining in its debt for the favor.
It asks questions of you, pushes you without apology, and in the process cannot help but provide clarity to whatever stage of reality you’re in at the time.
However, as one of my favorites articulated years ago, “I knew just as surely, just as clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last,” (Norman Maclean). I missed the New England air. The distance began to weigh on me, very much, and I spent not an insignificant amount of time wondering where the right place to be would be, ultimately. Yet as it so happened, a few stars aligned one more time. And in late summer, I will be leaving New Jersey to join Lesley University’s College of Art + Design as Assistant Professor of Digital Filmmaking. It’s an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to joining what looks like an amazing program.
But South Orange has been my home for the past two years, and it’s a bittersweet moment. This has been a lovely, small town that has everything you need within a five block radius. People who know you and say hello, who know your coffee and bagel order, and who wave from down the street and ask how you’re doing. It reminds me in that regard of where I grew up in Pittsburgh, actually. And I will miss it very much. There are these stereotypes of New Jersey that feel so far from my experience, which was leagues away from The Jersey Shore and Real Housewives. The first things I usually think of, actually, are the sunsets- brilliant pinks, oranges and purples. And epic mist that sits like clouds until a breeze pushes in.
I will really, genuinely miss all the ways it benefitted my health. I wasn’t well when I came here, suffering too many migraines from too many jobs, taken to try and sustain what was ultimately not a sustainable existence. I remember a moment months into my Jersey living when I realized I hadn’t had a migraine in months. That was incredible to me.
The calm provided by my walks through nearby Maplewood has been so important, as has understanding work/life balance as it affects your well-being. Recognizing stressors by their absence has been a huge deal, and being paid a livable salary obviously has been a tremendously important experience. It also makes me so upset that so many amazing professors face the most convoluted path to simple affordable living, knowing how important it is to mental and physical health. I could go on.
I will miss my students very much- I think more than they know. And the way they immediately and hilariously let me into their lives, ideas, and unique take on things. I was unconditionally welcomed, and their willingness to go on crazy journeys in the name of all things film meant the world to me. And, of course, it goes without saying- my colleagues. Their decisions quite literally changed the direction my life has taken, and I hope they know how very special that is to me, and how appreciative I am – now and always.
But this August, ten years just about to the day that I first set foot on her soil, I will return to Cambridge, Massachusetts. A place where I grew exponentially- faster than I understood at times, but ultimately becoming so many parts of the person I think about when I consider who I am. Now a few years older, with a few more grey hairs, a few more dad jokes in the repertoire, but a much better Ingrid.
Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay
• Zeppelin •