So, here’s a thing that happened in 2022: I got married.
I was sitting on the couch with my partner of more than a decade during the last weekend in July. “We should get married,” she declared.
We had talked about marriage a number of times, sometimes seriously, sometimes as part of a long-running joke. We moved in together years ago, entered into a domestic partnership at the start of the pandemic, and bought a house together, so it always seemed like a matter of when, not if, but that when had not yet happened. But this time felt different. The Supreme Court had just overturned Roe v. Wade and a lot of political commentary in those weeks centered on what rights might be next. Contraception was (and is) an obvious target, but, before congress codified the statute this year, some were speculated that protections for gay marriage were also in conservative sights. If gay marriage reverted to a matter of state law, we thought, Missouri’s domestic partnership laws could be stripped down as collateral damage, to say nothing of what might happen if we were to leave this state.
A big wedding seemed impractical given both our personalities and the state of the world and we had decided to embargo the information from our families so that there would be no pressure to do a ceremony and no chance that we would end up with soem people coming and others feeling left out, which meant, to paraphrase Rabbi Tuckman from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, getting married in a hurry. We started calling court houses on Monday. None of the judges in Adair County where we live would perform marriages, while Boone County where we previously lived has a regular schedule that was booked until the start of the semester, which would have meant waiting until at least October.
Then we called Macon, the county between Adair and Boone. The judge loves performing weddings, the person told us. How about Wednesday?
Just like that we had a wedding date.
We drove down on a rainy morning, ever so slightly dressed up and with a pair of silicon rings since they were what we could acquire in time. One of Elizabeth’s shoes fell apart outside the courthouse and then ran into a delay because the judge was on a call, but the ceremony went off without a hitch. On the drive down to Columbia for a celebratory day out we called our families with the news.
This week that spanned from July to August was a microcosm of the rest of my year. A lot of things went well. Professionally, I settled into my job and became further engaged in professional activities, both in official ways and by starting a writing group and hosting afternoon tea sessions for students. I also had an article accepted, finished revisions on my first book, and managed to finish most of my outstanding commitments. Personally, I read a lot of good books and started a regular running habit.
But doing more also comes at a cost.
I went into last summer with a resolution to do less, just as soon as I got through a week reading AP exams and book revisions. July was to be a month for sloth. Then I picked up a summer class last minute after a colleague suffered a health crisis and, in a blink, the start of the fall semester had arrived. Not only had I not had a restful July, but I was also barely ready for the fall classes to start. Then I had a production deadline for my book that left me scrambling to keep up with my teaching responsibilities. By the end of the semester I was feeling the cumulative effect of the past few years where a period of unemployment in summer 2020 was my longest “break.”
At the same time, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want an extended period of time off. I habitually fill almost any sliver of time with books and baking and other hobbies, including exercise. My ideal for travel is either to get lost in nature where I can spend my time hiking or to graze my way through cities while visiting museums and archaeological sites, where I invariably take pictures of things I can use in class. When literature starts feeling frivolous, I start reading non-fiction. If I go more than a few days without writing, I start writing here or on various other projects. I also like being involved.
I have spent a lot of time in 2022 thinking about sustainability. How can history and classics departments build sustainable programs? (It starts with stable jobs for faculty who can support students.) How can I create sustainable practices in the classroom that allow students to grow without burning myself out? How can I cultivate sustainable, healthy habits around writing and reading and exercise? How can I contribute to a sustainable environment when the world seems to be on fire?
I don’t have great answers to most of these questions and some of the solutions I came up with this year backfired, sometimes spectacularly. But I think these are the right questions.
As part of my overhaul for my end-of year sequence, I have changed the title format, replacing what used to be “using my words.” This post is the penultimate entry, following Writing and Books. Resolutions will close out this series.