[Anyone want to place bets as to how long my Friday will be? Anyone? Anyone?]
My co-workers held a retirement celebration at school last Thursday (they're the best), and then last night we went to a sports bar-type restaurant OUT OF OUR COUNTY to have dinner and celebrate again, this time with the option of adult beverages. They surprised me with ANOTHER gift, this time a wonderful basket of goodies from Wine Country Gift Baskets. (This is my new favorite online shopping site. I found myself inventing occasions for which to order gifts for family and friends.) I really WANT to open the beautiful gift basket, but it's almost too pretty to open it. I probably will, however, since that's the only way to get to the WINE inside. Never mind the truffles.
Several people told me I would experience a little sadness as the day approached, and there was a part of me that thought they might be right. I have been teaching OVER HALF MY LIFE (whew, suddenly I'm exhausted) and I'll admit it is going to be a little strange not having that routine anymore.
But I'm not sad. And I think I know why. I think.
One of my life mantras (mantrae?) has always been "No regrets." Sure there are some things I might do differently (see Exhibit A, otherwise known as marriage #2), but I can't regret them. I married the wrong person, but it was through him that I met Hubby. See how that works? And while marriage #1 was no gem either, it resulted in Sweet Girl, and I wouldn't have traded her for the world. (There was that one brief period when she was a teenager, but we won't go into THAT...) Of course I have made mistakes, but I like to think of them as learning experiences. As a unit my mistakes have made me who I am, and
Because I try to have no regrets, I tend to stand firm in my decisions. Oh I do change my mind on occasion, but that's just another decision, right? I don't beat myself up for decisions, and once I've put them into action, I don't look back. Mostly.
I can't remember exactly when I calculated precisely when my last year of teaching would be, but I've known I would retire this year for a long time. When we opened this non-traditional school, I knew I would be there seven years before I reached retirement. I remember thinking, "Seven years? SEVEN YEARS?" There were times I thought I might retire BEFORE this year, but I never considered putting it off another year. I made the decision, I owned the decision, I put the decision into action as soon as I feasibly could, and I have lived with the decision.
So what's to be sad about?
I will miss some of my students, but that's true of every single year I've ever been a teacher. I will miss my co-workers, but even those come and go through the years. I have maintained relationships with some former co-workers, those who meant the most to me, and I expect I'll continue relationships with some of my current co-workers. So it's not like I have to be sad about never seeing some of these folks again. There are a couple I'll be HAPPY never to see again. (YES, I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!!) Just kidding...the one(s) I feel that way about would never, ever read this blog.
If I'm completely honest, it may be that I'm not sad because in many ways this is exactly the way the school year ALWAYS ends. We tie up loose ends, we clean out our rooms (more or less), we frantically try to get some of these slack-butts graduated, and we fly out the door on the last day completely frazzled and already dreading August.
Maybe THAT'S when it will hit me that I'm really, really, really retired, but I still don't think I'll be sad. It may stress me out (ha ha ha ha ha ha) having to decide whether to walk in the park, go for a swim, or ride my bike, and the choice may ultimately depend on whether or not I want to put on a bra.
Not having to wear a bra. Now THAT might counteract any potential sadness all by itself.