Friday, May 4, 2012
I’ve been feeling unsettled ever since I woke up this morning. And it’s taken me a while to figure out why. Today was the last day of classes at the college where I teach. I should be breathing a sigh of relief, right? But I’m not, and it’s not just because I still have exam week and many, many hours of grading ahead of me. Tonight my daughter is coming home from college. I should be kicking up my heels—after all, I’ve been counting down the days. So why am I feeling little pangs of sadness? I spent the day teaching classes, going to meetings, talking to colleagues, and saying good-bye to students. Then I rushed home with the van so my husband could go meet my daughter at her dorm, pack up her things, and bring her home. He’s on his way now, and I’m sitting here trying to make sense of my feelings. This is what I’ve come up with so far: I don’t like the ends of things. I’m ready for a break from the breathless pace of the academic year, but I’m going to miss the students I’ve had for several semesters and may never see again. I can’t wait for my daughter to get home, but it makes me sad to think of her moving out of the cute little dorm room she’s lived in for the past two years—it feels like the beginning of the end of her college years. The end of the academic year also means the retirement of wonderful professors who have devoted their professional lives to sharing what they know with thousands of students over decades of teaching: my daughter’s favorite math professor, an adjunct buddy of mine who started just one semester before I did, and a dear mentor who was first my professor and then my colleague. So yes, endings are tough for me. They leave me feeling a little unsettled, a little nostalgic, and a little sad over the loss of what was. But, as we know, endings often make way for beginnings—new experiences, new possibilities, new dreams. So I will try to look back with fondness and look ahead with hope. As for right now, I think I’ll kick up my heels a little—my girl is on her way home!