An early morning message had me misty eyed. One of my former bosses, colleague and friend, was perusing Instagram and stumbled upon one of my photos highlighting my Italian adventure, “Bittersweet” she wrote, after having just seen my name on the Resignation Report at the school board meeting. “We miss you Christine.” I felt the goodbyes of last summer, wrapped in love and well wishes, all over again.
In April HR sent me an email asking about my plans for the fall. I was sure of my decision but still it was hard to type the words. I would not be returning to work. Meaning, I had to formally resign my position, no more leave with the possibility of return, the official end of my tenure in the district. And while I’m sure my decision wasn’t completely unexpected, there was a finality that didn’t exist until the moment I saw my words in black and white, took a breath and hit send.
I thought about my decision as I fell asleep that night and all the next day. Throughout my travels I have met many young families from all over the world. When asked my profession I would proudly say, “I’m an elementary school principal in the states, on leave, chasing a dream for a bit.” The children’s eyes grew wide at the mere mention of my job title. Their parents shooting them a look as if to say they had better behave in my presence. To calm their nerves, I’d smile and ask a few questions, “Where are you from? What grade are you in? What has been your favorite part of your trip?” Then I couldn’t get them to stop chattering.
I never say never, but chances are I’ll won’t be a principal again. My new answer to those who inquire about my work? “I was a principal, an educator for 20 years. I wanted to try something new, I’m a writer.”
I replied to my friend’s message, “I miss all of you. I’m learning that sometimes we have to leave the things we love to find out who we really are.”
Walking this morning, the park and the paths are empty, it is peaceful, perfect for reflection and meditation. At the end of the trail I turn and face the trees and the path where I had just been. I close my eyes and stretch. I hear them before I see them, school children, laughing and talking. A field trip to the park I suppose. Soon they are in full view, a long trailing line walking toward me, led by their teacher. I smile as they pass me, one by one. It starts with a little girl who looks up at me and smiles, “Ciao” she says. “Ciao” I reply. And then one sweet smile after another follows, “Ciao, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao.” My heart is immediately transported back to school, on the playground, greeted by my students and feeling their love.
Life goes on . . . but those twenty years, those smiles, those faces . . . they are forever in my heart.