I'm posting these photos because I want to remember myself as I am right now. I decided to do this at 6:00 am when I thought of the way my mom used to take pictures of us kids every year on the first day of school. Today wasn't my first day--instead, it was my last day of teaching as a graduate assistant at BSU. I took these pictures because I was up late grading papers--and in the second photo you can see the lack of sleep in my dry, squinty eye. I took these photos because I wanted to capture my happiness, my tiredness, and my sadness. I wanted to capture this small moment--so that I might remember who I am right now--forever.
I took these photos because I don't ever want to forget how much I love teaching. I want to remember how scary and exciting it was all at once--especially that very first year. I want to remember the way I put a 100 percent into it and how I received a 110 percent in return.
If I look closely, I can see how much I've aged. I can see the way two of the hardest years of my life have caused dark circles and creases around my eyes, how my skin has gotten more pale and is starting to sag a little bit--just like my mom's. But beyond the signs of physical wear and tear...I see something new in my eyes (minus the squint). I see someone who is curious and passionate. I see someone who struggles, but who is deeply in love with her life and the people in it.
I see a lot of things in my eyes that weren't there before. And even though life will continue to transform me with the passage of time, today, for just a minute, I want it to remain the same--if only a photo could capture me whole.
This morning, for our last class everyone read their last essays of the semester. They used the prompt "Real Life" and admitted that it was their favorite assignment all semester. I see why. To be honest, I found myself on the verge of tears a half a dozen times. Their writing was raw and real and heartfelt. It was downright powerful. I ended the class by telling them how much I've enjoyed getting to know them. I told them that, as they read, what I heard was their voice--each unique and incredible. I reminded them that there is more to writing than research papers--and that they each have a story inside of them, that their life is a story and that I hope they will never stop writing, never stop putting words to paper. The air turned into electricity with sparks coming off of 23 bodies. My god, if it had lasted any longer someone might have exploded!
And before they left I found myself surrounded by an entire classroom full of heartfelt handshakes and thank you's and well-wishes. A student wrote: "My one true worry is that this year will end." I can't help but agree. But today is both an end and a beginning.
Twenty or forty or sixty years from now I'll look at these 2 photos--and they will probably still make me cry. Teaching is the best thing I have ever done.