tomorrow at Penn: don't go too far

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tomorrow, I'll meet with my Penn students as the united English 135.302 for the last time. We'll review the literary profiles they have written about fathers and grandfathers, teachers and best friends, uncles and role models, tattooed coffee house guys. I will try to tell them how much they have meant to me, how much they have grown, how much their compassion for one another has signified, how restorative their souls are, but words will fail me. They will just have to know. They will have to promise not to go far.

Don't go too far.

When we are done I will cut through campus and join a student from a few years ago as she gets a troupe of West Philly kids ready for a show. I will take photographs. I will freeze her, too, in time.

Don't go too far. 

I don't remember four months like these past four months. I don't remember how I got from a slushy January to a cold, bright spring. I know I lost conversations along the way, the trail of things with friends, a little hope. I know I threw away a novel and swore I'd start again, and did. I know a book I didn't think a soul would notice was, in fact, by one very special reader, noticed, and that things began to break, one after the other, in this old house. I know some very good things have happened for friends, and that there have been losses, too—personal ones, global ones, losses of faith. I know my son moved to a new city that he has already made his own, that he texts me every day: Great time at work. Friends are coming. Just met the cutest girl. Nothing like a run beside the Hudson. You should see Manhattan lights at night.

I know that tomorrow is coming and that I will have to say goodbye.

And that I don't want to say goodbye.

Not to them.

Don't go too far.


Serena said...

this sounds bittersweet. I hope that all continues to be well.

Susan Campbell said...

This is beautiful. I always feel bittersweet at the end of a semester. But I do love the feeling of weightlessness between semesters.

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