That's what it feels like today as I sit at my desk at Woodlawn School, cleared of everything but the memories of the past year. Funny how you end up doing things you always swore you wouldn't do. I was never going to be a teacher and when I got into teaching I only wanted to teach college. Then I thought, well, maybe high school would be OK. And I wind up teaching English to 14 precocious 8th graders in Davidson, NC. Today I saw them for the last time and I'm feeling all maudlin about it.
A vase of wild flowers sits on my desk. Some of the teachers got them for me with a muffin in a paper bag that says, "Good morning, Karyn." They know I'm not a morning person. :) The flowers are appropriate. Woodlawn is not your average school. Like wildflowers, it sprang up in the farmland of Davidson, next to the beautiful and sophisticated "rose" of Charlotte, NC. The classes are in small, white clapboard buildings -- two or three classrooms in each building. Outside my window is a blacktop area with a basketball hoop and several picnic tables. How many days have I sat here, working or eating my lunch, listening to the ball bouncing outside as childish voices drifted through my mind?
My students were wildflowers, too -- some rough edges, some prickly parts, but no thorns. Stick them in a vase with a little bit of water and they thrive.
I thought this place was the square hole that I would fit into -- innovative, progressive, alternative education theory. Perfect. Finally a place that appreciated someone who thinks outside the box. But it wasn't a good fit. Long story that I won't go into here.
As I carried my bag of stuff accumulated over a year out to my car, I felt the weight of goodbye fall on my shoulders. The familiar sting of tears. It's not just goodbye to Woodlawn or even to my students, it's goodbye to:
- my dream of finding a place I would fit
- the family I had found among the like-minded teachers here
- the ability to be creative and innovative at work
- a beautiful setting to come to every day
- loving my job for the first time
- having something important to contribute Woodlawn's Stinson Hall
I cry also for the fact that because I lost my job here I am now going to Japan. It's HARD to make that move. I have had a crushing couple of weeks and more ahead of me. I don't feel that the people I'm going to work for appreciate me and what I'm giving up to go there. If only things had worked out here, I would not be facing this. I would finally have "my place" in the world. The long wait for a job would be over.
But, no, it begins again. Japan is not permanent. Some day I will have to come back to the real world and find a "real job" and worry about paying for college and retirement. I am going forward with the next step, but deep inside I wonder, what is to become of me?
So, today it is goodbye to Woodlawn and hello to -- possibilities.