From my first community college teaching job at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y. I put all my belongings in a car and drove alone out West—my on-the-road fantasy with the Colorado Rockies looming into view and hawks circling the sky. As a New York City native, who pounded the pavement for many years, leaving the East Coast was overwhelming: especially when I drove through Donner’s Pass and was almost cannibalized by the huge trucks threatening to crush my Camero. The scenery was spectacularly beautiful. Only a higher power or the culmination of millions of years of pure bliss could have created such beauty.
I made it to the West coast—never thought I’d stay as I felt there was too much sunlight—misery too hidden out West. What would I write about?
Thirty seven years later—after marriage, children 27 years of community college teaching four classes per semester and 678 papers per semester(yes, I figured that out with my calculator), I’m leaving my job. I have a pension, health care and already have some workshops set up, as I’ll need to work and enter the life of the “Not Quite Retired.” I’ll nurse my bad neck—stretch and play with words again—those illuminated fireflies that have come to me over many years—sometimes in the middle of the night, at the hour of the wolf-- and I’ve had to say: sorry, I can’t fly with you tonight. Tomorrow, maybe.
Soon it will be tomorrow: I’ll take my computer down to the Ferry Building in San Francisco—sit so I’m facing the water and just write.
It’s been a long haul—and I’ve loved my students, loved them all--but I am so grateful to have this chance. As I grade the last batch of 28 papers, clean my office of all the accumulated “stuff of life”—I’ll get a jade plant for the room where I’ll write and move in to that place where words are waiting to be caught and not crushed.