My Farewell [Guest Post]
May 6, 2016 § Leave a comment
I have the immense honor of sharing my blogosphere with a friend and fellow educator today. Below is his powerful piece on his relationship with school and education. Thank you Jordan for joining me here at Involuntary Verbosity. I am grateful for the words you share with us today.
I met you when I was 18; rather, I admitted that I loved you, that in my heart of hearts I thought we’d be together forever when I was 18. It seems like you’d always been there, somewhere behind me as all the major events of my life carried on. You gently placed a hand on my shoulder when my grandmother died and told me that to cry is to be human, to mourn to have loved and to remember to grant immortality. You gave my confidence with my umbrella and rain boots in Kindergarten and saved my life in middle school. I thought we could be together forever, until I was gray in the beard and my eyes quivered as I retired, older, wiser, but ultimately me. I thought I’d teach until my students were grandparents and their children’s children looked at me and questioned “who’s that old guy?” and with a pause they’d answer “that’s the man who taught me what it means to keep going when I was sad”.
And yet here we are, 31 days away from our divorce. You can say I’ve changed. You are of course right. You held tight that boy that dreamed that education could deflect bullets and a syllabus was a way to safeguard, ultimately, against the fading of the light. You can say I’ve lost my idealism and I would say the same to you. When we met, you surrounded me with applause. You told me I was Golden. You said “All children deserve you”, but 5 years later, you tell me I’m not qualified enough. That I ask for too much, that children can get along without me.
Four years ago when you put me in the hospital, when you beat me for the first time, I laughed. I thought surely, I had done something wrong. I had knelt a little too long talking to students; I had played a little too hard on the playground with the kids; it was my fault, who even plays basketball in dress shoes. Here we are, and you’ve put me in the hospital twice. My nerves are shot. My headaches are so bad that to get up to see you another day, I have to take medicine at night. I cry when I am away from you, I cry when I am with you. You’re the only thing I’ve ever known and you’re killing me, slowly.
I thought if I stopped our public relationship and kept it private it’d be better. We could charter a new flight together, we could learn what it meant to be each other’s everything again. We could consume one other and be so intertwined that they would know before seeing my ID, before I talked about you that I was yours. I thought we could mean more to each other, but you keep telling me I’m not worth it. I ask you for more, for help supporting myself, for help supporting the family you said I could provide for one day, but you tell me you don’t have it. It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s always my fault.
I promised you I’d stay until all the paperwork was done. I said I could hold on until all the tests and games you make me play were through. You said you needed that. You said I was strong enough, I don’t know if I am. In 31 days, I’m leaving you. I’m taking the years I spent learning what you liked and how to be the best for you and putting them on a shelf. I thought I’d hang them, one day, from the rafters like a champion and go out the same way I came in, with applause.
You once told me that children needed me, even greater, that they deserved me and I deserved this. Now after every cut, every time you come up short when we go out together, you say you’ve given me everything you can, that your last offer is your best offer and I’ve gotten what I deserve. You say you do it for our children, but if that was true, wouldn’t you love me?
I didn’t want to leave without saying anything. I didn’t want to vanish into the summer and let you find my room empty, all my things gone. I wanted to tell you that I will always love you. I will love you more than you love me. I will love you more than you say you love me, but if I don’t walk away now I’ll be teaching when my students are grandparents. I’ll be teaching when their children’s children walk up to me and say “who’s that old guy?” and with a hesitant pause they’ll answer “I don’t know, but that’s not the man I remember”.
I hope you don’t treat your next one like you did me.