Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feeling a Goodbye

I am sitting at my desk at school, and I am tired.  This morning, my desk was largely cleared of piles and rubbish (a colleague even commented, "Wow, this is the cleanest I have seen your desk in four years!")--but now, after a busy day of teaching, it is a disaster zone again. 

In front of me on the desk:

-a pile of vocabulary quizzes--two are graded, the rest remain untouched because I got distracted by organizing my lesson plan binders.
-a carved coconut head and a copy of Empire Falls, given to me by a tearful colleague whom I will dearly miss.
-four one-dollar bills, collected in my 7th period class as part of an effort to order pizza tomorrow for my "going away party" (the rest of the students swear they will have money tomorrow).
-a very chewed-up pen.
-a sticky note containing my current "to-do" list.
-a pile of The Scarlet Letter presentation outlines that I need to grade and return tomorrow.

Scattered across the floor of my classroom:

-a splayed out pile of the research papers that I collected today (and will need to grade sometime in the next month between graduation, moving, and a friend's wedding).
-a box of 125 copies of the school's literary magazine  (I am the club adviser).
-a speaker and microphone for tonight's poetry reading for the literary magazine (won't get home until about 10:00 p.m.).
 -a wrapped present for a colleague who is having a baby (never had a chance to give it to her today).
-my purse (with all of the contents spilled out on the tile because I accidentally kicked it when carrying in the box of literary magazines).

As I write this, I realize that this is the second blog post in two weeks that I've written in the format of a list.  It feels like my life right now has become a series of lists:  1. Finish a five-year teaching career to which I have given my whole heart and soul.  2. Pack up our little apartment on Rounds Ave and say goodbye to friends who have become our family.  3.  Watch my husband graduate from dental school and marvel at all he's accomplished.  4.  Drive across the country and find a new home that we hope to love as much as we've loved this one.  5.  Complete adoption paperwork as soon as possible and prepare to become the mother of a tiny, precious human being.

It's a lot to take in all at once.  Maybe the lists are helping me manage not only the many events that must take place in the next several weeks--but also the deep emotions that will accompany those events.  I am desperate to make sense of what I am feeling--to be able to capture it in words.  But I can't write about it--it feels too big--and I can't cry about it because, for some reason, I just don't cry.  I wish I did.

In the opening chapter of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is standing on a hill overlooking the football field at his boarding school.  He's just been kicked out for poor grades, and he knows he won't be returning next term.  He stands all alone in the freezing cold, watching his classmates down at the game enjoying themselves.  He says, in a way that only Holden can,"...Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game...Only I wasn't watching the game too much.  What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by.  I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them.  I hate that.  I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave aplace, I like to know I'm leaving it" (4). 

I know just what Holden means--and I'm just hoping that tomorrow, and in the coming weeks as the life I know and love changes so much, I can feel my goodbye.


  1. Quite the post. I don't understand how you are responsible for grading 125 research papers when you will no longer be getting paid or getting benefits. How is it your job? I am not finishing a career or adopting a baby, but I am finishing a chapter of life, and I'm scared and overwhelmed. I find myself wanting to do nothing but sleep, which is how I cope. We'll get through it together!

  2. Leaving Buffalo was so hard for us to...and yet it didn't really sink in right away--- for months I woke up and felt like we were on vacation and would go back and that our move wasn't final. Then at some point I stopped feeling that way and then I really, really missed it. I don't do change very well- It's hard for me. I love the new stages I enter but part of me always misses the chapters that have closed. Good Luck!

  3. :( Sweet sorrow, my friend. Here's to good things to come!

  4. You are so good at expressing your feelings... What a ton of emotions. Hang in there... you are going out with a bang!



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