You guys, I’m done. With college.
Okay. I haven’t graduated yet. I still have two more weeks until that happens. Next week is “honors” week for everyone who is taking honors oral exams. The following week is senior week, when I get to go tubing and visit Atlantic City and drink countless glasses of wine while watching old movies with my friends.
I don’t think it really struck me how much this chapter of my life is coming to a close until one of the first grade girls I tutor asked if I could bring back grasshoppers from Texas. Her second grade sister had said that some people eat bugs, and I said, yes, that’s true, I ate a grasshopper once at a nature center. Their minds were blown and they asked if I could see its eyes. I said no, that it had been deep fried and didn’t taste too bad because everything tastes pretty good when it’s deep fried. The younger sister then asked if I could bring grasshoppers back from Texas for them to try, and it struck me. I’m not coming back. At least not anytime within the next few months. I might make a trip out next summer, based on how many of my friends are still out here and how much money I have saved up, but it won’t involve tutoring these two young girls again.
Guys, I am so sick of growing attached to people and leaving them. Chester, Philadelphia, Chicago, Costa Rica, and now Swarthmore. College, in its essence, is a very temporal part of life. The second you matriculate, you know you will only be at that institution for a set amount of time. Still connections are made. Time feels like it is passing slowly, and you get used to this idea of “college,” not thinking a whole lot about the end, just the continual passing of semesters. I think it’s been particularly hard to leave all the groups of students I’ve worked with. I have left two classrooms full plus dozens that I have tutored, either through the afterschool program or on my own. And the weird part is that I think they’ll forget me. They’re young; they’ve met and worked with countless adults; I’m just another one of them. However, that is not always the case. When I went back to the library in Chester a few weeks ago for the first time in a year and a half, one of the girls, who has been going to the afterschool program, immediately recognized me and asked where I’d been.
Ah, the guilt.
I’m planning to go back to the classroom where I student taught before I leave and I am kind of scared to see how much the kids have missed me and how much they will guilt trip me for leaving. All of last semester, they kept trying to convince me to get a job at the school (to which I replied, talk to the school’s CEO about it). One of them wrote a note before I left about how she cried when a song came on in the car the last week of my student teaching because it reminded her of me and she didn’t want me to leave. To be honest, on the last day of my student teaching, I cried too.
Which brings me to next year. Or the next three years. I am so incredibly excited to know that the classroom I’ll be teaching in is for keeps, more or less. Fingers crossed, the first grade students that arrive in my first through third grade classroom next semester I’ll get to see all the way through to the end of third grade. Even the older ones I’ll still be able to say hello to as they move onto the upper elementary classrooms at the school. No more goodbyes, at least not for awhile and not with large groups of people. I don’t know what the future holds after those three years. Maybe grad school, maybe teaching abroad. I found this really sweet PhD program at UT, which is pretty much centered on everything I am interested in as a practitioner and an academic. Perhaps I might be able to do that. Nonetheless, I feel this strange pull to see the world, but to also stay in one place. I am still young and have so many things left to see and experience. However, I also want to be around to see the kids I teach grow up. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be either/or. I can teach during the year, travel in the summer. Or I can teach abroad for a year and come back. But it is still difficult, this pull to be in so many places at once while staying in one. I’m starting to understand why people “settle down” or stay in the places where they grew up.
I know my dad will read this and tell me to be “mindful” and present in the current moment, as this is one to enjoy. And to be truthful, I am. I am present in the fact that I’m lying on my bed in my apartment right now, wishing it wasn’t raining so I could go to the grocery store without getting wet. I am present in the fact that I get to celebrate three of my close friends’ birthdays tonight and watch the seniors videos people made in the Christian fellowship. I am present in the fact that being done with college and eighteen straight years of schooling just feels weird. These next few weeks are going to be bittersweet. I am going to enjoy them as much as I can and remind myself there are always such things as underclassmen’s graduations, reunions, and visiting friends.
And I am also going to relax and sleep and watch lots of junk TV, because starting June 9th, I’ll be doing 50 hours of Montessori training a week.
But goodbyes? Man, are they tough.