I'm at UTSA today. Brian drove me. He has two classes to attend, and between classes we will have lunch together. I visited my colleagues at the Writing Program and caught them up on when we are departing. I still hope to see some other colleagues who are off teaching classes, but for the moment I'm sitting outside the Main building where I have taught so many classes, my hands chilled by the breeze that tends to whip between the Main building and JPL. It is a beautiful, clear South Texas winter day--chilly but not really cold. It's the kind of mild weather that San Antonio is known for and that I will probably not experience for a while in Germany.
Ate lunch with Brian and visited with my office mate, Christina. I saw pictures of her new baby daughter, and we had a long overdue conversation. It is good to see her again, as well as everyone at the Writing office. I've been away from my job for only a few months, yet fundamentally I feel like a visitor, like a college kid returning to visit his high school. Colleagues are friendly and seem happy to see me, yet they all have something to do here and I don't. It's not that I am made to feel unwelcome--certainly not. It's just that the realization has descended upon me that I am no longer a functioning part of this environment. I don't even have a parking pass. Brian drove me, we walked to our respective destinations by a different route than I have become accustomed to over the many years that I have taught here, and I felt truly like a visitor, which, after all, I am. About twenty years of daily morning ritual has evaporated, and though the campus looks the same, my ritual connection with it is broken. That makes all the difference in the world. Ritual is deeply significant for most people, more so than we often realize until it is broken. People stay in churches with incompatible doctrines because of comforting rituals. The pain of broken relationships can be largely the result of broken rituals, because they become the heartbeat that a person lives by. The ritual of a job also runs deep, especially after twenty plus years.
Of course, Lawna and I will discover new rituals, yet we'll lead a somewhat out-of-sync existence for awhile until those new rhythms established themselves. The disruption is exciting and disconcerting at the same time. Of course, it's conflict that makes a fulfilling story and spins out the plot of one's life--the new adventure. The disruption of comfortable complacency. It's looking at the world through a new lense, from a new vantage point--as an explorer, a visitor. At least until it becomes a new home.
Good bye home. . .hello. . .
It really is time for a new chapter. UTSA is now Brian's place and not mine. Perhaps it will once again be my place in another three years, but today it is not.
Alas, farewell Roadrunners!