Saturday, May 14, 2011

Goings and Comings

The end of the academic year is here and with it my nostalgia sets in. This time of year is always sad for me. The end of every semester is sad as I say good-bye to my students and wonder which ones I might see again in another class or around campus, but the end of Spring semester is especially sad because when it’s over, the seniors leave and I know I won’t see them again.

I’ve never been to an Emerson graduation – I didn’t even go to my graduation from graduate school and I’ve never been to one as an instructor. As an adjunct I would feel odd walking with the full-timers in their regalia and I’ve never asked to get a ticket and sit with the families.

In the past few years the students started a great tradition of having a lunch where faculty are invited to say good-bye to them. I’ve been to that almost every year. Sometimes I see students I know well, other times I don’t see many. This year I didn’t go. I had a conflict – a class I signed up for as a student was at the same time and I decided I should focus on my own writing.

My nostalgia for my old family patterns haunts me because Maggie is coming home after her freshman year. I can’t believe it’s over. The fall and winter were slow while I was bereft with her departure, but surprisingly the spring went fast and believe it or not, I’m used to her being gone. I actually got used to her empty room and space at the kitchen counter at dinner. I got used to getting phone calls as she walked between buildings. I got used to following her lead.

As excited as I am for her to come home, I’m also a tad apprehensive. Just as she’s gotten used to being on her own, I’ve gotten used to not worrying about her. Family dynamics will shift again when I drive her home. We can’t pretend she never left.

On my last class, I listened to students talk about how much they wish they could stay in Boston for the summer, how they didn’t want to go home, how boring home is, and how much more fun college was. I looked out across the room. “You’re killing me here,” I said. My students laughed. I didn’t see the humor.

I know this could be her last summer living at home. Soon, she’ll be looking for internships, traveling with friends, branching out. And she should.

I’ve been in her room, neatening it because we have company coming before she comes home and her room is more comfortable than our dog room downstairs. I also like the idea of her coming home to a neat room, but I’ve pocketed all the change I picked up off the floor in there - my price for straightening up what was left behind after Spring Break.

I know she’s enjoyed her independence; will she enjoy being home again?