A friend of mine asked the other day how I felt after my first semester of retired life. I paused, and then told him, “Good, but there are things I miss.” My life is so different these days. I no longer hold court where I am the queen of my classroom. I abdicated that throne. Now I am a peasant dolling out measly words, hoping a few will read what is in my soul.
So, what do I miss and not miss about my life as a teacher?
- I don’t think I will ever not think of the calendar year in terms of fall semester, winter break, spring semester, and summer break, no matter how old I am and how long I will have been retired. I lived according to this schedule for most of my life. Why should I change now?
- I love knowing I can go to the bathroom any time I want, instead of holding my bladder until the next bell and then running the gauntlet through the crowded hallways to the faculty break room praying there isn’t a line. It’s a simple joy, one you don’t appreciate unless you have been there.
- I so enjoy my mornings. I used to rise at 5:15 AM, get ready, grab a quick breakfast, and be on the road by 6:45 AM. Now I still usually get up before dawn, but I grab my old robe, brew a pot of coffee, and then sit down with my morning pages. This journal is my meditation, my quiet beginning.These notebooks contain clean, white pages that give me inspiration and goals for my day.
- In a weird way, I miss saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I can’t explain it. I just do.
- I don’t have to eat lunch at 10:20 AM. I’m still hungry at that time, but I don’t have to eat. Yes, 10:20 AM. Crazy, I know.
- Since I don’t eat lunch early, I no longer am starving at 3:00 PM. I don’t consume entire sleeves of crackers or snarf down half boxes of cookies the moment I walk in the door. I’m good.
- I miss the noise. I miss the loud hallways, the constant chatter, the boisterous pushing, the inappropriate cussing (kids, not me…well, usually not me), the tangible sound of adolescent lust in the air. All I have is my snoring kittens, the clicking of the keyboard, and the buzz of our furnace. Everything is peaceful. Sigh…
- I am embracing each day. I have some commitments, but mostly the days are mine. I can write, read, bake, practice yoga, knit, nap, or just binge watch Netflix. I can tackle a big project or spend time just walking in the woods.
- Every teacher has his or her favorite lesson to teach. Mine was Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. I never tired of it. I miss Romeo’s angst and Juliet’s strength. I miss the gorgeous language that always made me ache with joy. I miss the tragic young love. I miss the looks on kids’ faces when they realized Mercutio was really dead or how Juliet’s father treated her at the end of Act III. (I don’t miss hearing freshmen murder the Bard’s words when reading aloud. Oh. My. Goodness. Never. Never. Never.)
- I love being able to reinvent myself. I choke a bit when I call myself a writer, but it gets easier with each blog I post and each article that is published. I guess I will always be a teacher, only now I am using the written word instead of standing up in front of a classroom.
Every day is a quiet, little adventure. Each word is a brick on this new road. All of these present moments create both delight and wistfulness for the past and the future.
“Beware of missing chances; otherwise it may be altogether too late some day.” Franz Liszt