Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The end of an era, and an uncertain future

(Design source unknown)
It's the last week of the school year.

It's my last week at MHS, and it's also possibly my last week of teaching, period.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of bittersweet feelings about this. I've been here for ten years (eleven, if you include my student teaching year), so of course this place, this job, has changed me immeasurably. I've grown a lot since the first day I showed up here, and the friendships I've made over the years run deep. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in these walls, good and bad. I have always wanted to move to Portland, but there was always a reason to stay; I'm not saying those reasons don't exist anymore, but if I keep waiting until I'm perfectly ready, it'll probably never happen. (And as much as I love my job, I'm not super keen about being stuck in this particular town for the rest of my life.)

It's hard to walk away, but it's made easier by the fact that I have something amazing that I'm walking toward. I'm not just leaving my hometown, but also my long-time career. I'm walking away from a very comfortable, familiar life towards an uncertain future, and while it's scary (thank god I have safety nets), it's also exciting, because it's full of possibility.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not often struck with moments of profound sadness at the steps I'm about to take. While I have spent this past year cataloguing things that I will NOT miss about my job (item #1- stacks and stacks of essays to grade), there are also many, many things that I will miss. And especially in recent days, now that the school year is drawing to a close for what is potentially the last time for me, I am reminded that not only has my life been not that bad, it has actually been pretty awesome.

I've gotten to share some of my favorite books and films with my students, and watched them open up their minds and blossom. I've forged bonds with some of them that have lasted beyond their high school years, and I've gotten to see them grow into amazing young adults. The teachers I work with are some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever met. I have a fair amount of autonomy and control over what I teach in my own classroom, and even through the roughest of times, I've felt confident that my union and my district are taking care of us - not all teachers can say that. MHS has a community of teachers who really fight for each other, and if I'm being absolutely honest, I couldn't have asked for a better place to start out as a teacher. In fact, one could say that I've been spoiled being here.


I'm not going to lie, I've shed many tears this year (mostly in private) about everything that I'm leaving. I've lost sleep thinking about the impending goodbyes. I've been struck dumb by the outpouring of caring that I've received from people who I didn't realize cared about me that much. I've had almost an entire year to mentally prepare myself, but I don't think that time has made it any easier, actually.

And I haven't even begun to discuss all of the non-job-related things I will miss about living here in the Bay Area, namely, the fact that my whole entire life is here, from my family and friends to my favorite running trail and my gym. (And this also doesn't even touch the surface of what Jimmy and Jolie are leaving behind too.)

But at the same time, I've never felt more ready to go. I could offer many reasons why I would prefer to live in Portland instead of the Bay Area and why I would like to, if not quit teaching altogether, then at least take a year off and explore other interests. But to be honest, those reasons and those desires have always been there; it is only now that I've felt ready to make that leap.

One more week. I think I'm ready.

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