It’s easiest to get through days like today by focusing on the details. I blasted Dixie Chicks in my classroom and picked every bit of ticky tack off the walls. It was strange and freeing, peeling off the faded posters from my first year and unearthing graffiti from when the graduating class was in the ninth grade. I didn’t want to make small talk and try to keep my composure. I didn’t want to start saying goodbye too early and have to avoid seeing people in the hall after long, heartfelt farewells. I didn’t allow myself a single tear until C came to say goodbye, and then I dropped a couple (splat) on the linoleum floor. I make light, but it broke my heart. I will miss that kid like crazy.
I scored finals and entered grades and peeled tape off the chalk board and cleared drawers all day until my room, usually messy, often fluffy with snowflakes or hung with geometry mobiles or draped with graphing posters, sometimes smelly and always colorful, was neat as a pin. I didn’t think about Alaska until I turned in my keys and slid my gradebook under the office door. By the time I came through the front door at home, I had a to do list all ready to draw up and start marking out. It feels like everything is happening all at once and far too fast, and all week I’ve been struggling to switch gears quickly enough to keep up. Now I’m heading into open country and the last stop sign’s in my rearview mirror. It’s smooth sailing into fifth and I’m about to be barreling into the unknown at a whopping 95.
I said goodbye to my Principal today. He calls me his daughter and treats me like one. I’ll miss his kindness and his unshaking faith in me. I’ve been very lucky, and I won’t soon forget any of the people I have come to love here. I missed saying goodbye to lots of folks, and I think I like it that way. Feels more like “so long, but not forever.” My colleagues have been more than kind to me, and I wouldn’t want to inflict my hideous, blotchy crying face on them anyway.
I lost my cool on the ride home, thinking this might be my last cruise down our county road in the dark, listening to gravel spraying the belly of the car. I think I’m quite brave and perhaps very stupid to give up awesome for the chance of something better.