Yesterday I officially told my school district that I’ll be retiring in June. For months now I’ve been purging, each week carrying a box or two of beloved things from my classroom to the faculty room for others to adopt; consulting with my accountant; researching the endless possibilities of what comes next. I’m ready.
Here’s what I’ll miss:
-My students, their faces and questions early in the morning; reading aloud to them in the afternoon, their bodies leaning forward, caught in the spell of the story; a quiet reluctant student rising to the role I’ve given him in a musical play, rocking us all in our seats at the performance; Sitting at my writing table that looks out onto the lush hills, as a young writer shares a piece so profoundly beautiful, I just want to hug her.
My colleagues: a tight and brilliant group of overworked, inspirational people who fight for children and each other. Innovative people from all walks of life who do what it takes to get the job done, and who know how to find joy – or pretend to, anyway, even when the world has gone mad.
My Webster’s dictionary has two definitions for retirement:
1. withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life
2. a place of seclusion or privacy
I like the second one best. Seclusion is what I covet most: A place to write in for days or weeks at a time. The very idea of it makes me vibrate. I’d go to the hermitage in Big Sur that looks out over the Pacific Ocean, or a cabin perched between juniper trees high in the Sierras, or have a stay-cation in my window seat overlooking our garden, wrapped in a green throw the color of the leaves outside.
But withdrawing from work? Never. There is something else that I have to do. I feel the heat of it in my bones as I write this.