Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 17 2014

The end comes slowly all at once.

Community Bakery is on the corner of 12th and Main, in the SoMa neighborhood of Little Rock. I’m sitting at the tiny rocky table right next to the soda fridge, mostly finished with my tomato soup in a bread bowl. I have two pigtails approximately 12 inches long in a white paper bag in the backseat of my car. I interviewed for the job I already am employed in– but for the full time position this time, the one that includes travel, that takes me from the classroom, that I could move to Little Rock for. I looked at two apartments this morning and don’t think I’ll look at any more. If I get the ATC official offer by Wednesday night, Thursday morning my deposit will be down on the first apartment I looked at.

I’m ready.

One of my students is texting me right now– video after video of performances from the talent show that happened in our school gym yesterday. Our superintendent showed up in the beginning, hovering near the black-butcher paper covered front doors. My former principal took a seat in the front row. My students operated the spotlights, took photos, behaved beautifully, and all around had an excellent show. Our third annual, very likely the last the school will have for a while or ever– no one too interested in stepping up to take over.

I have two days left with students, both of which half or all of the kids will get checked out early, leaving with their parents to get their hair or nails done for promotion, driving to Pine Bluff to buy new outfits and shoes. On Wednesday they’ll all walk delicately across the carpeted gym floor, taking their certificates and going home to cook-outs and pool parties. Newly crowned seventh graders.

I’ll take a day or two or three to pack up my room, and use the rest of my sick days to pack my Dumas house and work for ATC.

My Dumas life is ending.

I want to feel like crying about it, but I don’t. I’ve been preparing for months, my brain switching from Dumas to Little Rock to Dumas with each weekend, my eyes trained on studying my students’ faces, my brain desensitized to Q being in perpetual in-school suspension, to another of my favorites getting taken from the school by a police officer seconds after I gave him a hug and told him I loved him– I know I will spend many days broken hearted and remembering, full of their tiny hands and huge ideas, full of their enthusiasm and their distance from me… but right now I’m too close for it to hit completely. I’ve learned from myself that grief takes time to set in with me, it comes far after the absence.

I sat in a black chair at the salon yesterday, watching these long rat-tails clipped at my neck. Watching the razor scissors giving volume and texture and shaping this little bob. Watching the hair dryer in sections, curl under here, smooth here. Then I looked up and caught my breath right at the top of my throat, glanced up then down, realized how hard it might be to text a picture of my new hair to Auntie– I look just like my mother.

This might be a last post on teachforus. New hair, new city, new job, and the 691 spam comments that appeared in the past month unchecked are putting me a little over the edge. I love teachforus; it’s been my blogging home for four years… but like much else it’s becoming defunct and too small, ill maintained, saturated with yesterday.

Caroline in the Delta: now slowly moving out.

Perhaps there will be an ATC blog on the horizon? Perhaps a new writing adventure? I’ll be sure to post any professional updates, but for now I’ll just leave you with love. Love for the history cataloged in this intangible place, love for the hundreds of tiny bodies I stood in front of for so many hours in the past four years, love for the life Teach For America has shaped, and love for the universe.

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