“Good bye, I mean to say.
And thank you. Every day.”
-Ross Gay, “Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude”
Today I taught my last class of the Odyssey Project. Now I’m sitting here, trying to make sense of what I’m thinking and feeling—trying to make it into something I could write and share here, as an Uproar post—and instead of anything else I feel a quiet, full kind of sad.
Once, when I was a kid, I remember running outside early one morning after a freeze. I think my mom must have told me “it froze last night!” The frosted grass pressed and gave against my feet. There was an old bucket next to our house, a thing I almost never paid attention to, though a few times before I’d noticed it after a rain. Brimming. Like someone could drop a bucket into the sky and pull back the fullness of the night behind the clouds. That morning the bucket was full, and frozen over. I remember the clearness of the ice. I remember the cracks in it, fractures down through the surface. I remember my hands aching toward numb when I broke off a piece and picked it up, a little windowpane showing me the side of the house and my fingertips. There’s a metaphor here about water, and time: about the moments, the rains, that run past our hands, that run into the ground and nourish roots we can’t see. About endings and beginnings. There’s also the ice. The coldness of it. The closeness. The touch.
Tonight, sitting here, I thought I would write about some ‘last thing’ one of my students said after class. Instead I’m thinking about smiles, and finding myself smiling. I’m thinking about the hellos, the rearranging of chairs, the walk down Green Street, the chats in the hallway before class, the goodnights, week after week, as we finished our class at 8:30 and usually stayed a bit longer to chat. I’m glad to still be the kid picking up a piece of ice with wonder. I’m glad for the hellos and goodnights. And thank you, I mean to say. Every day.