by Tabitha Kidwell

I just made the mistake of looking at facebook pictures of my first class of 7th graders from Kilbourne Middle School at their senior prom and graduation ceremony, right after cleaning out my office here. This made me simultaneously nostalgic for my own high school days, for the time I spent teaching middle school, and for all the exciting and wonderful places I have ever lived and had to leave behind. In short, it made me miss every ending of every experience I have had thus far. Except maybe for college. But now that I think of it, I really miss college too. Now, I have this deep feeling of loss and sadness. I feel like there isn’t possibly enough time in the world for everyone to do everything they need to do. My mom told me that, after dropping me off at my dorm freshman year, she cried for 24 hours straight. I didn’t really understand that at 18. At 30, I’m beginning to.

I don’t mind this sadness – It’s only sad because it marks the end of happiness. You should be sad at the end of an experience like this. So I’m sitting in it, feeling it, poking at it. I’m regretting the progress of time, but I also feel a little bit like time doesn’t exist, like I am partly still back in high school and like that high school girl is also a little bit here. We’re united by longing and memories, just as the me of today will still be there when this feeling surfaces again sometime far in the future.

After the closing ceremony of a conference we attended together last November, Bu Rini, my partner at the university here, asked me “Taby, what is that word for something that is both sugary and unpleasant?” “Bittersweet?” I offered. “Yes!” she exclaimed, “bittersweet! I feel bittersweet because you will leave soon!” I thought this was a little odd at the time, given that I had over 8 months left to go, but Bu Rini was just thinking ahead. The bittersweetness is really kicking in now. I’ve loved living here, but I can’t wait to move back home. I’ve met wonderful people, but I’m so excited to be back near family and old friends. I’ve had great career experiences, but now I’m ready for a new chapter. When I started this blog almost two years ago, I wrote about how I love the beginning of things. Now I realize I also love the end.

2 Comments to “Bittersweet”

  1. As always, you’ve put into words everything that I’m feeling. To be honest, I’ve been shying away from writing any final posts…it just seems too intimidating.

  2. Hear, hear, Jackie. Although after living in this country for 1 year rather than 2 or 3, I can’t pretend to feel the same kind of bittersweetness that you do.

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