The Last Day

The last day before Christmas break passes with unbearable slowness.  The students dawdle with their essays.  The copier malfunctions again and again.  You get what help you can folding the newspaper and sticking it in boxes, but you have to finish it up yourself.  You always have to finish it up yourself.

You stay at school well past dismissal to finish grading and posting midterms -- like the first son in the parable, you angrily refused to make any such promise to the students, but you've realized it's better all the way around if they're done now.  And the feeling you get as you leave that day, looking at sixteen days of an empty schedule, is intoxicating.

You convince your husband to take you out to lunch at a nice Italian restaurant, where you unload your stress and gaze into each others' eyes, and the spicy shrimp gnocchi never tasted so good.

And suddenly, there's a knock on your window: a group of your students are doing some shopping and have seen you, and instead of scurrying away they wave you outside and give you hugs, tell you all about their Christmas plans and wish you well.  They do ask about the midterms, but you wave it off -- everyone did well, check online -- and they are happy with that; already school seems as hazy as though it happened weeks ago, not just this morning.

You go home, spend a couple of hours happily sewing and ignoring the half-decorated tree, and then go see a Journey tribute band with a bunch of friends.  Yep, a Journey tribute band.  You sing along at the top of your lungs.  It's okay.  No one's working tomorrow.