Sometimes the day when a kid tells me to fuck off and suck his dick works out to be a good one. There's nothing real positive about a kid coming after me like that, other than that I survived, didn't react, and am composed now, but that's not the sum total of the day. Just after he went up one side of me, down the other, and up and down six more times, I had a brief moment and found an email from a friend offering me possibly good news.
I'm in the process of quitting a job at which I am burned out but still functioning. I keep thinking I'll grind to a halt one day, seizing like an engine with a blown head gasket and all the oil gone, but I'm still able to get out of bed each day, write, drive to school, survive the day, and come home to family and more writing. There are times I wish I wasn't quite so high functioning — it would make it easier to take disability — but for better and worse I'm still able to function and will probably make it to June.
Most people I tell about quitting wait a respectful moment then ask, what's next? Mostly I smile and shrug. I don't know what's next. They look at me with pity and concern. Does your wife have a job that can support the family? Not yet. Don't you have a kid going off to college? Yep. The next part is mostly a look but asks, have you lost your mind?
I haven't quite lost my mind, but, like Cowboy Junkies sing, I'm open, so open.
Just outside there waiting.
Just outside the circle.
Waiting there is someone I don't know who.
I'm so open, i'm so open.
I don't sleep most nights,
Just lie awake and count my blessings.
I'll take this endless life
Of perfect pointless mornings.
I'll hold you till the morning comes
'Cause it's all that i can do.
I'm so open. I'm so open.
I'm open to possibilities I can't yet imagine. Pretty much anything is possible. I've done lots of jobs in my life. It's just that I've been a full-time public school teacher for twenty-four years, so it's tough to imagine what else I might try. Rather than try to imagine it, I'm just trying to be so open.
Today maybe something happened. I won't know for a while, but I'm ready to talk with anyone about a way forward, try something new, take a chance. Why not? I won't come back to the job I have now. My head gasket is worn, oil is leaking, and when I'm beginning to overheat. Better to pull over and hear what fortune has to say.
I've been reading Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption to students and I'm drawn to Red's lines on the last page:
I find I am excited, so excited I can hardly hold the pencil in my trembling hand. I think it is the excitement that only a free man can feel, a free man starting a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
Uncertain, I like that. Conclusions should be uncertain. I'm so open, so excited, and uncertain. A good mix with which to move forward.