School’s Out

BBQ to celebrate the last day of classes. The four of us celebrate, as best we can, markers of our children’s lives, and our own special triumphs while attempting to support our individuality.

Their friendship means something to me. I often wonder why some relationships work out and other’s don’t.

My last week of classes all too often become fatigued to the point that my squirrely thinking leads me to question everything. Easily, I begin to believe the lie that I’m a loser or people don’t want me around. Although I make attempts to shirk off these delusions, they linger. I usually retreat and isolate.

The last to leave, finding the solace in solitude, I sit in my “office” and take in the light, air, lines of the classroom’s image, and the sounds that make their way through the limited openings of the windows.

By 4:00 on any given school day, when the sun’s light takes a turn toward the western side of the building, I begin the process of leaving, which could take upwards to an hour. I move slowly to the rhythm of my hearts pace; no more or less than what’s necessary.

To be and then be nothing as I move through the paces of rounding up my belongings. The smells of the emptied school building envelope my senses. Sober reference, connecting to a greater purpose for me working here, beyond my own financial self interest.

I press the elevator button, always tinged with guilt that I don’t walk down the stairs to the basement. Indulgence, and privilege motivates me too easily. I exit the building through the back door, noting the emptiness of the school – feeling the heavy absence of people – the thousands that come through each weekday for the 10 months in operation. The last exit of another year.

At the end of school BBQ, the girls ask me about finishing for the year. How did grading go? What were the students like? Their sincere small talk, is just that, small. This light conversation provides a means for me to find my way through feeling like the outsider.

Eventually each inquisitor retorts the big reflection question, either with a sly somewhat envious grin or large bubbly smiles, “are you happy to be off? My forced smile never gives away my wincing frustration, and I exclaim, “I’m ecstatic! So looking forward to it!” My heart and soul, exhausted by my life watches as they happily nod in approval.

My friends mean well. They always do, but my angered, lonely, tired spirit makes me hungry for something different.

Each summer I am reborn by expectations of wanting better than how the year finishes. Each disillusioned perception signals the need to be committed to a summer rehab that will fix the broken end searching for a new beginning.

This year is no exception. In fact, the crystal ball’s future looks bleaker than in past times. The New Rules being applied to my job, with rubric after rubric, feeds a new level of insecurity.

The suburb BBQ redirects me. My girlfriend’s consistent efforts to celebrate slowly works me over and takes me in. School’s out for summer, and the School’s Out BBQ tastes delicious.

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