19 June 2011

Bloom and grow forever

"To my friends and family, my teachers and my peers, I thank you for coming here tonight.....As many of you know, I have been attending [this school] for ten years. Let me pause to allow that sentence to sink in. TEN YEARS! So it’s time to move on."

In the finest tradition of fiction, but not always in reality, all's well that ends well, and tears were shed, events were resolved, realizations were made, and an end led to new beginnings.

"...I can tell you that making a movie takes a lot of hard work. A lot of people are involved...and it takes a lot of team work to get to the final product. If our years [here] were a film, each one of you would figure in it, whether you’re a student, a teacher or a parent. Our rolls have varied in this film. One day you might be the producer. Some days, you’re the actor. Occasionally, and we’ve all been there, you’re an extra and you just have a walk-on scene. Whatever the case, your roll has mattered and whether you’ve been here for ten years or for only one, tonight’s production is the sum of the work, the play and the unique personalities of each of us. But now we’re done. Tomorrow, we start a new project..."

With the help of a lemon drop after the two-hour proceedings, I was able to say my goodbyes, too. I don't remember to whom it was attributed, but yesterday, I saw a quote that said, "Take the high road; the view is better." And it's so true. I gave thanks and blessings to those who were deserving, and simply said nothing to those who have caused hurt. Sometimes it's easy to forget how in our intertwined lives the right word in the right ear can do a world of good, while the angry word can do a world of harm. I'm old enough now to know when to pull my punches, and this week, pulled more than I really wanted to.

But ultimately, I was glad that I did.

"Our lives are our productions, too, so make a movie that you are proud to star in...This, ladies and gentlemen, is a wrap."

I look back at 10 years and I see all the people who have figured in that time. Some have moved on; some have died. I've forgotten the names of others, but remember their faces with fondness.

In the end, I wearied of that place. There were many reasons, but a increasingly pervasive mean-spiritedness--amongst administrators and some parents, primarily--was chief among them. Anger is contagious, and I found it more and more difficult to keep a distance from all that. I'm grateful for the good people, the hard-working and kind and strong teachers and administrators who have been real role models for my kids. I'm grateful for the friendships I had with like-minded parents, no matter how few those were. I'm grateful for the moments when I had the chance to put the good word in the right ear, and maybe make a positive difference in the life of a child.

Right now, the silence of my own house echoes around me. The spouse has taken my mother off to the airport, and then is going on the batting cage with the kids. It's been days since I had my time and my mind to myself.

But the echo is reminiscent of that day ten years ago, when I realized I was alone in my house for the first time in seven years, and for a slight, panicky moment, wondered what I was going to do with myself. The panic gave way to a thrill of excited pleasure when I realized that vistas had just opened before me.

As they have once again.

This, ladies and gentleman, is a wrap.

Go listen to some good music: "Edelweiss" from the musical The Sound of Music, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Quotes are from the daughter's salutatorian speech. We sang this song at *my* kindergarten promotion, and I've never forgotten the lyrics. After several days, the tension is finally falling away, though I was able, thankfully, to recognize the good that night, and leave the bad aside.

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