Prompt: go to a random playlist and write an entry inspired by the first song you hear. For mine, the song is “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell.
“How do you like retirement?” Grace asked, when we’d found seats at Panera’s.
“I like it, but I didn’t expect to feel nostalgic about teaching.”
“Do you miss the kids?”
“That’s part of it, but that I expected. What I didn’t expect was that I’d miss the cyclical nature of teaching. Every year we did the same sorts of things at about the same times, but it was all different too because the kids were always different.”
“Like migration,” Grace said, “except the coming was in the Spring and the leaving in the Fall.”
I looked down at the Panera’s pager to make sure it wasn’t going off. “But it isn’t just that we aren’t living by the school calendar anymore. It’s more how everything at school keeps going without us. This Fall students are going to walk into our classrooms, and they won’t know we’re not there because they’ve never heard of us? It’s like someone removes your liver, and your body should be in trauma; but instead it just goes on like it never needed a liver after all.”
“Do you think liver-removal is a better metaphor for teacher retirement than migration?”
“No. No I don’t. I don’t know what the right metaphor is. Maybe a better description would be from that Joni Mitchell lyric in ‘Circle Game’ that goes, ‘We can’t return. We can only look behind from where we came.’ Maybe that’s more what I’m feeling.”
“Maybe you should contact the school and see if you could go back.”
“Not in a million years. I said I’m nostalgic, not crazy.”
The pager went off at that moment, and I got up to go for our food as Grace took a sip from her coffee.