I knew (sensed) that this was coming. The end of a phase. Given the students and where they came from, I was always grateful for the one or two each term who thanked me for opening their minds, who told me I was a good teacher.
God knows I tried.
This was the closest I've come to having a legitimate place in the world, an occupation there was no need to explain or apologize for. Twelve years. I've never held a job this long.
It was "real"... maybe not high-end respectable to the human flesh eating class, but it was there, listed on the registry. I existed...
Far more important to me--I loved teaching. I had way more freedom than I suppose I had any right to expect or enjoy... but in the end, with top down evaluations, statistical analysis of student evaluations... etc ... I was exposed for the outsider I truly was, and am. At least, I'm sure that went into the decision.
I did my best to honor the program... while remaining forever outside its perameters.
I will be always be gratefull, for the years left of my life, to my collegues--who were always respectful and personnally open, and most of all, to the committment at Saint Joseph's to the personal needs of the students. More than a "mission statement" commitment. The one most important factor in my year to year effort to fit in and do my part to honor my responsibility... it was always more than a way to pay the rent, though it gave me little more than that in compensation.
Like I said.... I had a sense, an inner sense, that this was a phase that was drawing to a close. Anxious about what comes next? Sure... but excited... and in a way, back to my own way... as an outsider, a pariah... with a taste in my mouth of what it feels like to imagine one "belongs" somewhere.
Interesting prospects... looking for work at age 68, with no "real world" experience in anything.
I am amazed... at how fortunate I've been. And acutely aware of how my own background has prepared me--taught me the proper masks to wear in order to get by, when I have been no more worthy than many of those I pass on the street... holding out their hats for coins.
If I end up beside them...it will be no injustice... not to me. Only the injustice I've managed to escape most of my life by the skin of my teeth.
And if I can keep writing... I'll be all right.