I carried my cell phone in the back pocket of my jeans today--like the kids--in order to live tweet through my last day of work. Until I realized it wasn't. So I just used it to note all the things I'm not going to miss about teaching high school:
I'll never sit at the light at Euclid and 11th street--whether on my bike or in the truck--at 7:10a.m. watching mothers on their cell phones, waiting for the light to change, oblivious to the kids and skateboards and bikes around them, oblivious to the horrible example they're setting for the teen they're taking to school who will be driving soon.
I'll never endure another Back-to-School night.
I'll never again sit in my room alone after school grading essays during finals week while all my colleagues and friends in the art and voc ed department run off gleefully to have lunch together.
I'll never have to try to carefully compose a "professional" response to a parent's rude and accusatory email.
The list goes on.
People have been telling me for days that I can now "sleep in!" but the truth is, I'm an early riser and will continue to be so in retirement (just not at 4:00a.m., which has been the case for the past fifteen years).
I realized this morning that really, this isn't my last day of "work." That day happened a long, long time ago, and I'll never be able to put my finger on which one it was, but after years of teaching, it just ceased to feel like work. The campus was a place I went to every week day to hang out with teenagers, share some insights into literature, provide guidance and support where needed, and do some paperwork. In exchange for that, I received a paycheck once a month, and I never stopped being amazed and grateful when I did.
So there was no big sigh of relief when the final bell rang today, no celebratory shout of "Woo hooooo!" emanating from my portable classroom. In fact, my room was so instantly flooded with kids coming by to wish me well, it hardly seemed like an end to anything. Just more of the same good stuff I've been privileged to experience for the last twenty-seven years.