wait, summer is over? summer was here in the first place?

“Summer” is a relative term.

For most of my life, summer meant raised temperatures and shorter sleeves. It meant life slowed down just a bit and novels became a certain fixture of my days. Rita’s Water Ice, salt water taffy, barbecued items for dinner and – possibly most importantly – Jersey corn, tomatoes and blueberry pie.

This summer included only a handful of those. I did get to consume Rita’s (on several glorious occasions while visiting the family in Yardley) and had some delicious vegetables purchased at road side stands. I read a few novels (Grave Mercy  by Robin LaFevers is an absolute must for anyone who enjoys things in the vein of Hunger Games, by the way) and my feet found both the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

But slow down?


My summer did not do that.

Any concept of “rest” or “sabbath” pretty much went out the window on May 24 when my research proposal was rejected and I was given a new reality to live in. Within one hour I went from confidence and excitement about what the next season of my life was going to bring to abject horror, fear and panic over not having a plan. My stomach lurched and I felt that the walls were closing in on me and I barely escaped the room before dissolving into heaving sobs.

Over the next week or so, I cried and yelled and processed and freaked the flip out and came to peace with the new reality. With the help of favorites and family on both sides of the ocean, I formulated a new plan and moved forward in it. I downloaded thousands of pages of new articles and ordered new rounds of Inter-Library Loans.

Of course, it was not just my professional life that shifted. The personal one took a shift as well and some very serious conversations about permanence had to take place with the Irishman. Because – and this is a particularly delightful side effect of being an ex-pat – if I fail this next proposal (to take place in the beginning of November) my visa will be revoked and I will have 60 days to leave the country.

The end result of this, as I sit on the cusp of September, is that I only have vague recollections of not being so stressed and anxious that my sleep exists uninterrupted. This is a large reason why the blog has remained dormant, along with a few other reasons I’ll try to explore in the next wee bit.

All of that to say – my summer was not full of rest. There were moments of glorious sunshine and lazy moments spent on beaches. I sat at long, luxurious meals with family and explored new worlds. I celebrated marriages and dreamed  of others, but everything was punctuated with the nagging thought of “I may loose my visa in four months” breathing down my neck. As I move forward into autumn (arguably my favorite of all the seasons, especially for the three or so weeks it shows up in Northern Ireland), I will once again be surrounded by stacks of notes and color-coded post-its as I attempt to craft a new proposal.

And then? Over Thanksgiving? I will finally have my “summer”. My delightful sabbath where no professional work will be undertaken and I get to introduce my Irishman to my family and my world in the hopes that he finds home there as well.

So here’s to large cups of coffee and incredibly understanding friends, supportive families and a boyfriend without whom I would not have survived this summer this well. Here’s to shifted reality and finding my footing on an uncertain terrain. Here’s to movable summer and the promise of eventual rest.


Author: kristen

msw, mdiv (baylor university): phd (queens university belfast) : researcher, social worker, human resource director: focus on intersection of gender and religion: wife, daughter, friend, banyan tree

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