It's over. As of 1pm this afternoon, I am officially unemployed. My classroom is no longer mine; I don't have another school year coming up; my only students are past tense. From here on out, I navigate the great unknown.
Funny, though, that it would take joblessness to make me feel like I'm creating my own path in life. I mean, life is always up to me to create, but somehow with a steady job--at least, with this last steady teaching job (how weird to talk about it already as something-that-used-to-be!)--I felt more like the structure of my life had already been determined for me. In large part, I guess it was: I was confined by school hours, but it wasn't like I could turn off thinking about teaching and my students when contract hours were over. A very, very large chunk of my time was in some way dedicated to teaching. Which was my choice, initially, of course, but which kind of stopped seeming like one.
It's possible that every job I will ever have will ultimately make me feel like I'm not in control of my time or my life. I guess now it's up to me to figure out how true that is.
But as for closure. Today at school, while everyone else had inservice meetings, I packed up the last bits of my classroom and put together my curriculum plans for next year's language arts teachers to use. It was the perfectly satisfying end to this three-year career--cleaning everything up and getting ready to pass the torch. I left feeling like I'd done everything I needed to do here.
And as I walked out the door with the last of my stuff crammed in my backpack, I saw this, written on a poster where my coworkers had recorded what they thought were things to celebrate about this year:
Thank god for that. I wanted to give the writer a giant hug for the gift she gave me with those words. It is a bold move, and it is a celebration, and I am ready and excited for it.
Right now, I am faced with nothing but possibilities.