Today is Erika's last day at Wells Community Academy High School. She's worked there since the fall of 2005, when she started as a student teacher. From there she became a permanent sub then a full-time English teacher for two years.
I've come to view the happenings at Wells as a significant part of our life together, from hearing Erika's first reports about the school after work on our back porch on Walton, to meeting Erika and her teacher friends for drinks, to helping her chaperone school dances. Wells caused Erika a lot of headaches and nearly ground her down at times, but she always persevered. She also made some great friends there, with whom she'll keep in close contact.
When I was on the night shift in late 2006, I walked down to Wells nearly every weekday to pick up the car for various uses before returning it by 2 p.m. to catch the bus into the Loop. I'm going to leave work today in half an hour, and when I get to the Wells parking lot, I'll be closing a chapter of sorts.
Ah, but I shouldn't be so melancholy. I have a feeling we'll be meeting Rita in that same parking lot some time in the fall after school or after a dance. With all the contemplations of endings lately, it's time to refocus on the here and now and beginnings: a new life and a new school for Erika, which sounds light years ahead of Wells.
I'm a bit more sentimental than my wife, so I'm sure she'll chuckle at my dampening eyes (though not maliciously) when I stare "one last time" at the old place. Who knows, she might join me in some tears this time — she's going to especially miss her students. But she'll always have memories of the many kids she's helped, and we'll always have the back porch at Walton, the skyline in the distance at night, Erika's cigarette smoke wafting around us, the stories of the strange school filling the air.