Best to listen to this song to get into the right mindset. This is not a nice post but it is raw; my personal thoughts on the latest developments.
I had dinner with my folks tonight. Wasn’t able to attend Father’s Day due to a bout with the flu. A fever, perhaps? Wasn’t the ‘Rona, that was for certain; that constant state of go go go finally caught up with me and laid me low for the weekend. Shame, really; I enjoy my family time.
Yet I still broke down in the car.
The tears running down my face, during that drive I have made a hundred thousand times, were of the different sort. It wasn’t anger, my usual reason for shedding a tear. Oh, how I lose myself to passionate emotion when I find myself wronged. Anger is a powerful emotion. Little wonder the Sith swear to it. But these tears – these were different.
It was not quite sadness. No, not that variety, that ubiquitous sort that is splayed across social media, the doom and gloom of the news. It wasn’t a depressive melancholic deluge either, the one we slip into periodically for no real reason whatsoever other than it is what it is. I have fought with depression for years – decades – and can muster a defense against it these days. Still, it wasn’t that sort of sadness streaming down my face.
They were the tears of betrayal.
And, oh, how they sting.
After taking it upon myself that I would pen a family biography, devote myself to research, and futz about the world in an effort to tackle my immigrant grandparents’ story, it was always assumed that I would once more return to my old classroom at LHS. Of course, it wasn’t my classroom for the year. That would be foolish of me to refer or think about it as such for I did, much to my chagrin and pain, leave my beloved kids behind. Certainly, I have always preached the merits of family to my kids, trying to impart upon them the idea that school isn’t the most important thing in Life – far, far more important things to worry about than test scores, dress codes, and who can score more points with a ball. Family is far more important than these things.
But, for me, that self-inflicted wound about absconding from my kids in the midst of a pandemic will forever rankle. I had my reasons for leaving, and they are just, but it will always be a burden upon me for abandoning those I love most.
That being said, for I do enjoy beating upon my own proverbial dead horse, I was under the verbal assurance and guaranteed handshake that my position at LHS would be ready and waiting for me upon finishing up my familial sabbatical year. I hugged her, my captain, and cried into her shoulder. She did the same, reading my letter of resignation, meeting my tears with her own, and assured me that, when my task was complete, I would be welcomed with open arms.
We hugged. I shook hands with the lieutenant, the manly clasp about the shoulder, as he wished me well and that he looked forward to my return to my classroom. He assured me my goombas were in good hands and that my family quest was an undertaking worth doing.
Aside: If you’ve elderly relatives, reader, I beg you: listen to their stories and histories before it is too late.
I left with my meager belongings in a few boxes. Student artwork, letters, projects, gifts, knickknacks, and all the goofy shit one accumulates from serving the youth. I left behind the books, the markers, the paper, all the things the next teacher would need to outfit a good classroom. What use had I for such things? My classroom was now the world and my lesson plans were catered to family history. They could use the supplies. The only thing worth keeping came from them.
And so I began my quest. I traveled across the United States, to the places where my grandparents once called home; back to the Old Country of Switzerland to see their origins, to trace the family back as best I could. All the while, that love of returning, that itch that always appears upon a long journey – that call to home – was alive and well. Soon I would be back for my students.
Now the three English positions at LHS have been filled. My month-old application, posted a day after the jobs became available, didn’t so much as receive a glance. My voicemails and messages remained unanswered, left on Read. I, much to my shock, had been replaced.
Pride being my sin, I should not let myself get embroiled within my own ego, lest we never advance anywhere in a thematic plot or pacing. But, reader, had you known the candidates who are now teaching my AP English classes, you would share my distaste; alas, they were not the ones to bury their daggers in my back.
It was the reassurance, the handshake and confirmation, the mutually shared tears – the godless humanity of it all – that confirmed I would find a safe port once the storm subsided. But honeyed words are just that, making even treachery palpable to a moon-eyed fool.
It was the reassurance from my superiors – my captain and lieutenant – that damned me for thinking so highly of myself. Here, I had pledged loyalty for years. Never a complaint without warrant, always a volunteer to assure the mission’s success. There, rewarded with an awkward dismissal and a series of calls and emails yet unanswered.
And so, whilst driving to my parents to share their table, the pain of it finally hit. Like lances of iron, heated to pierce the hardest armors, their honeyed words and false promises stabbed into my heart, eviscerating the loyalty and respect so carefully cultivated over five years. They couldn’t look me in the eye at Bilingual Seal, at Graduation, at the retirement, and I believed it nothing. Stress, of course, it is the end of term.
They knew months ago that I was damned.
And here, here where I pledged my sword and pen to their cause, where I once swore to follow them into Hell for their leadership, to prove myself ever the loyal soldier, I was but a catspaw.
Fool that I am, pride being my sin, I should have known nothing is guaranteed under the sun. So colored by my own cocksure assurance, I had near forgotten I had made a powerful enemy of late.
One – which like a vile spider, lies in wait, her tendrils of web spinning ever further and deeper into every darkened nook, had not forgotten. And, when the time was ripe for revenge, she sunk her venomous fangs into the very thing I cared for the most. Their oft-repeated mantra of ‘doing what’s best for the kids’ seems to only go so far, that is, no further than Zeno’s damned Achilles.
Not only had I been abandoned by my superiors, but the realization that their orders came from higher stung further still. They were due for promotions – why risk having a spine when you can take it from the lamb? Why bother rocking the boat, your position secure, when someone else can flounder? They had internal applicants – unqualified, ill-suited, and poorly recommended – but applicants nonetheless. After all, I was an ‘outside hire.’ And this was what ‘was best for the kids.’
I discovered this treachery through my former department head. Bless her. She didn’t have to tell me anything, she didn’t owe me any favors. But she was the one who had the courage and integrity to let me know that I had been replaced by a science teacher, that I would not be hired, and that my chances at anything else in the district were scrapped.
My captain? My lieutenant?
Silent. Silent as only craven cowardice can summon.
Judas. Brutus. Cassius. Benedict. Lucifer.
Join their ranks and damn you both.
Damn you, Pam.
Damn you, Trey.
I was your most loyal soldier; you turned me into your most bitter enemy.
This is what was best for the kids, you ignorant asses? You sold me out to save your hides: and now at what cost?
That is why the tears stung so violently today. Mixed with the tang of steel but flavored with honey, such are the daggers of traitors.
You miserable cretins, you spineless curs, you goddamned treacherous vermin. I served you loyally: now you cannot even look me in the eye. You did this in the name of the kids? You sacrificed me to Moloch in their stead?
Yet anger subsides.
Perfidious Greeks that they are, their betrayal was not without the most silver of linings for, as the adage says, ‘one door closes, another opens.’
An offer came up immediately. A place to stay. Love.
A classroom to call my own. A home. Love.
Tomorrow my car will be loaded with my first batch of belongings to bring to my new school, my new home. It is a bit of a drive, but she is worth it. She always has been.
There is not much to move: some books, a couple of cats, my grandmother’s desk, the usual fare. But the most important thing?
Boxes of student artwork. Their letters of encouragement, of rants and raves, of silly stories and serious matters. Their doodles and drawings. The can of coconut milk, a Captain America bobblehead, Master Chief from Halo: Reach, clay figures of Perry the Platypus and a fat beaver, and a thousand fucking coffee mugs.
The only thing worth keeping came from them.
Adieu. Good bye. Auf wiedersehen. My beloved goombas. I shall forever be your teacher, but I shan’t be here.
Good riddance, Lovington Municipal Schools, you den of silver-tongued and shortsighted snakes. May you reap what you’ve sown in the dark.