Shifting Focus
"Focus" by Michael Dales, via Flickr Creative Commons, some rights reserved

“Focus” by Michael Dales, via Flickr Creative Commons, some rights reserved

ME: I had a good life. My program wasn’t what I really wanted, and it was hard to do that and work full-time. And if I had stayed just one more year, I still couldn’t have finished it because I was going part time. But I was really good at my job, and it fit me well.

HIM: So what about your social life? Romantic life? I mean, your family is there, you were studying, you had a good job. There had to be some reason you left.

ME: I’m not running away from or to anyone if that’s what you’re asking.


A few days later…


ME: I miss my job.

HIM: Okay really, what happened? Why did you leave?


So went two conversations with the first friend I’ve made here in Philadelphia. I didn’t answer him directly, but for this first Philly-based post, I’ve decided it’s confession time. Had I believed I could have found a life partner in Louisville, I would have stayed there. I’m not quite ready to say I left to find a husband, but I will say I wanted to put myself in a place and in situations that increased my chances of meeting men, in the hopes that I would meet one that I want to marry and who wants to marry me. For reasons I’ve previously articulated, that was unlikely in my hometown, and that left a part of me unfulfilled, despite all of my professional and academic successes.

Oddly enough, in my short time here, my focus has changed. I know that when completing a move to a new city and state, immediate needs abound. There’s unpacking, setting up utilities, finding the right grocery store (still working on that), moving money to a new bank, getting a new license, getting lost, etc. I start an MFA in creative writing on September 1, and it was a week after my arrival before I wrote anything, even in a journal. But in those moments when I’m not in the process of moving, something dominates my thoughts that I didn’t expect: money. In June, when I wrote out my vision for my life (a very long and ambitious vision I haven’t shared on this blog, and different from the personal mission statement) and ranked my values, finding a life partner was number 1, starting a family with him number 4, and financial security number 8. Now that full coverage auto insurance has gone from $185 per quarter to $111 per month, and I still haven’t found a job, I’m thinking about how I can monetize everything, anything. I think I am finally in the position to complete and self-publish a long overdue essay collection about black women, sexuality, and the Christian faith, but even the thought of returning 100 percent to entrepreneurship—to marketing, sales, production, distribution, bookkeeping, etc., all at the same time and under the power of one—makes me tired, unmotivated, and a little guilt-ridden for being a capitalist feminist, but somewhat empowered for wanting writing to produce financial independence rather than assuming that it won’t and that I’ll need a husband for that.

Interestingly, I don’t feel guilty at all for being a marriage and children-minded feminist, though I do feel odd about dropping every good thing in my life to pursue those two things. (I’m not hard on myself; I’m just reflective.)

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2 thoughts on “Shifting Focus

  1. Dear Mariam,

    If you are interested in a great parish, I have one for you- The Community of St. Mary Magdalene which meets in Drexel Hill, right outside of Philadelphia. We are an inclusive Catholic community pastored by two women priests and we would love to have you visit us. We meet every Sunday at 9AM in the McBurney Chapel of the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church, 600 Burmont Rd. The entrance is across School St. from the parking lot.

    1. Hi Eileen,

      So many suggestions! Thanks. I have a rather long list of possibilities now. Good problem to have, I think.

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