One thing I've learned: endings are almost always anti-climactic. So it's over. Now what?
On my final day of high school, Lauren, best Camel-smoking co-conspirator a girl could ask for, drove us out to the tiny Cajun town of Breaux Bridge for lemon ice-box pie at the famous Cafe Des Amis. We sat under the whir of a high-ceilinged fan and lazily ate our dessert, wondering why we didn't feel the ecstasy we were supposed to. We walked over the bridge and watched the bayou, its coffee and milk-colored waters moving so slowly it was impossible to tell which way it flowed. Summer already damp on our white uniform blouses and running shorts.
On the last day of school at Nonesuch its heavy and warm. Gray clouds hover close outside the window as my first period class scratches out their final. By afternoon, the schoolhouse smells like old slippers and forgotten sandwiches. The kids are restless and cheery, greedily spreading cream cheese on another bagel no one will finish, leaving trails of hastily graded papers in their freedom wake. I, too, feel a bit frantic, filling out report cards, slapping my red-inked enthusiasm all over their writing, made more brilliant by its sudden surrender.
Plans are corrupted. I slack on my advanced comp final, focus instead on the "final" final celebration I'll have with them. Vanilla ice cream with crushed Oreos! Then lunch-time and two realizations: these are my over-achievers, they want a challenging final! And: the ice cream never made it into the freezer as promised. Uh-oh. I cover the board with questions, assemble bowls and spoons for the soupy dessert, and in they come. Their eyes widen as they notice the board. What's all this? they ask. We thought you were gonna go easy on us, just hang out and chat. Do we really have to answer ALL those questions?! Melted ice-cream, anyone?
The air is thick with questions no one can answer. Will school open again come fall? At the end of five years, Nonesuch is a sinking ship and I can't bring myself to jump. A few of the girls linger in my classroom, and we talk about Israel, blue eye shadow, books. I don't leave school until the kids are all loaded in the van, lumbering down the hill, over the bridge, and up Bones Road one final time.