It's been a long time. A really long time. This goal that I basically gave up on after Round Three back in 2007. After that letdown, I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen. I rationalized it: there are certain kids who need me, my kiddos with whom I have forged relationships, the ones who I consistently float money for lunch, the ones who need the fist-bump and constant praise.
But this time, when the opportunity arose, it paid off. And as thrilled as I am, this will be one of the most difficult life changes for me. Leaving my new friends and longtime colleagues will be hard. I will miss most of them; some of them I will probably never see again. Leaving my room, 209, saddens me. I know it's just a room, but I molded it to represent me. It stood for comfort, safety, creativity, a place where risks can be taken without fear. It was "the newspaper room." Leaving after one of the best years there, with some of the neatest kiddos, causes me heartbreak. I confess that some kids knew that I had again applied. They told me not to, just as they do every year when I joke that I may not be back. I can't count the number of times someone has said to me: "I'm taking Journalism 3 next year." And I replied: "Well, maybe I"ll be here to teach it." The response was always: "Oh, you better be here. You can leave after I graduate."
This time, it's true. I have a slew of young adults that I will miss: Professor, CashMoney, Linds, JLibs, SZ, Neela, Sean, Henceforth, Steph, and too many others. I feel, in a way, that I am letting some of them down. I want to see them graduate. And I won't.
Even more so, I feel as though I'm leaving my girl, my Queen of Shit. My mentor. All too many times I've relied on her so greatly to pull me through my rough spots, to help me refocus, to remind me to hold the line and respect the standards, to emphasize the three Rs: rigor, rigor, rigor. She scared the living crap out of me during that first month on the job, particularly when she stared over the top of those reading glasses and gave "the look." I'm sure this happened the first time I invoked the word "clusterfluck," one of my newsroom phrases.
I remember how tough it was for me when Pam left. She was the younger sister that I never had. We shared so many personal similarities; we were kindred spirits. Then Cathy left. She was the eldest sister that I never had, my literary guide and cheerleader, the person who "got" me as I suffered through all of the mixed family drama. I needed Marcy to stay. She was my middle sister, my rock. The one who kept it all together with grace and style and poise. We could sit in a meeting, listen to some knucklehead squawking, and just smile, knowing what each other was thinking. She completes me. And every time she's mentioned the R word, I'd get anxiety. After all, she's way too young to retire.
But now I'm leaving. Maybe this will help me avoid the pain that I would be experiencing upon her leaving me. I think that would be worse.
And so this is where my persistence has left me. Ecstatically sad. But in the end, richer for what I'm taking with me. If only I could take these people with me in more than spirit.