The time has come to say goodbye to many people (and things!) here in Austin and the whirlwind has left my head swimming. This past week alone I have said goodbye to my school that I have loved and worked my entire young career, the one and only car that I have had since I was 16 years old, and the home that my wife and I bought together 3 ½ years ago. I want to give each of these their own due as I sort through and share the emotions that swirled around each.
Going chronologically, my first goodbye was to my school, Govalle Elementary. Govalle is a school located in the heart of east Austin. It is a school that has become nothing short of a second home and a family to me. The teachers, the students and the parents come together at this school to form a community that I have been privileged and proud to have been a part of these past 6 years. The last day with the kids was a tough day of hugs and some tears as I hugged my students (past and present) and sent them off for the summer and the rest of their lives hopeful that I contributed in some small way to their path in life that I hope takes them on their own adventures and find their own happiness. It was the following day, however, that really got me emotional. The end of the year breakfast is a time honored tradition where the faculty gets together and does a quick reflection of the year and everybody says their goodbyes and finishes cleaning/packing up the classrooms before leaving for summer break. I have done this 5 times before, and I have watched many great friends and teachers leave/retire, but those past experiences did nothing to prepare me for my own departure this year. This year they decided to bring up each teacher leaving individually and do a “compliment blast”. Basically I sat up there and listened while the staff took turns complimenting and thanking me for my work over the past 6 years. Now admittedly there is a level of sheepishness standing there and listening to people brag on you, but I will say any slight embarrassment of being up there was quickly washed away by the sheer honesty and genuine gratitude that was sent my way. After everybody was finished, I tried to blubber my way through my own thank you’s and goodbyes, but I am sure I missed several good friends in my incoherent ramblings (so if you are one of those teachers/friends reading this now, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do for that school and for being my friend).
Immediately following that emotional rollercoaster, I had to do something that I found almost as hard to do…say goodbye to the ONLY car I have ever owned. That’s right, I am 30 years old, been driving since I was 16, and it’s been the same car for all these years. My dad leased a 1995 Toyota Avalon brand new 18 years ago. He gave it to my older brother when he turned 16, and then when he went off to college, it became mine and has been ever since. I remember crossing the 100,000-mile mark on a road trip to Atlanta from New York to go watch my college swim team compete at NCAAs. Well who knew then that I would DOUBLE(official final tally-236,093!) those miles and she would still be going strong. Here in Austin we had lovingly named her “Old Betsy” and although she lived up to that in age, she was really like that old grandma you had who was still as sassy and lively as ever. No engine trouble, no transmission trouble, noting beyond normal wear and tear for 18 years. Thank you Old Betsy, go rest peacefully (actually sold her to Carmax, so maybe she will keep on trucking for some new lucky 16 year old who will have her until he/she turns 30. One can dream right?).
This post is long enough, so my wife or myself will probably post more about the move later (actually happening right now as I write this!). I think the thing that is really interesting is the mix of sadness that comes with saying goodbye, but the immediate replacement of that sadness (although never completely gone since I will always miss the important things even after I have finished that chapter of my life) with that palpable sense of excitement. Goodbyes are hard, but when each goodbye brings me closer to this incredible adventure I have ahead of me with the only person I would ever want to do something this fun and crazy with, I cannot help but let that excitement and happiness take over me and leave the sadness to the deeper recesses of the mind where they will transform into fond memories of a great part of my life.