Thursday, June 10, 2010

4: Last Month

Part four of a series.

You’re scared to tell people you’re leaving your job. But when it comes time to sign contracts, you ask for a conference with the principal. You tell him. He’s surprised—he had no idea you wrote. He says you can have your old job back any time. You smile sadly.

You’re not coming back. You’ve come to understand that you can be a teacher and a writer at the same time, but you can’t be good at both at the same time.

You’ve made your choice.

When you tell your friend, the only one left of the original half-dozen who started working when you did, you cry more than she does.

News trickles slowly through the school. You hear “Really?” more than you can count.

The kids are the most surprised. It’s like when they find out you’re married, or see you at the grocery store. They have a hard time seeing you as a real person who wants anything or exists in any capacity beyond a teacher. They don’t think you can be anything but their teacher.

You worry they’re right.

Some of the teachers assume you’re leaving because you’re pregnant. You accept this; you’ve always known you were working in a place where a woman giving birth was often consider the highlight—the only high point—of her life.

When people say you’re a writer, you’re still a little shocked to hear the word in connection with your name.

The rumors run rampant. A billion-dollar deal, a movie deal, you’re going to Hollywood. You’re going to spend the rest of your life waking up at noon and eating ice cream in a mansion. You smile—they have no idea how hard this new life will be. They have no idea how scared you are.

You’re going to be a writer.
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