I’m sitting in the West servery at Rice University—in the same spot I sat so many long, single-minded Institute afternoons. I’m watching college kids walk by in sweat pants with their breakfasts.
Smelling the smell of this place makes my heart feel funny. This summer was such an experience, and my life since then has been such a trip. I’m just struck dumb by the SAMENESS of everything here. This place is exactly the same.
New corps members will be doing their thing in these exact buildings before long, and I’m definitely feeling some apprehension on their behalf. But I know they’ll be successful at Institute—what I’m actually apprehensive about is what happens once the fall gets started. These very capable, happy, shiny people are going to be put on the front lines and will have to build the next steps of our movement from scratch. We have to get this right. They have to succeed.
This is so intense. The sounds of the servery are the same, as is the way the trees only slightly wiggle compared to the way their tiny leaves skim across the pavement below. The amount of sun coming in the windows is the same. The distance from the north stairwell of McMurtry to the handicapped bathroom right off the main hall of this building is the same. My stomach is in knots—Do I feel guilty about my classroom, sitting here? Do I feel guilty not being that teacher from Institute? No… I just feel… wizened.
Have I done what I meant to do? What would my institute self say if she saw me and knew my heart now? Do I look up to my institute self, or look down on her? She performed so much better—but I’ve learned so much since I was her. If I could talk to her, would I be looking for approval, or offering advice and direction? It’s really weird not to know the answer to those questions.
I am proud of myself for what I’ve done in San Antonio. I have thought deep and hard, and I have found so many of my edges. I’ve done an okay job overall, and put down a strong foundation for doing better. I’ve been a part of our corps and feel absolutely rooted in San Antonio TFA. My students aren’t where I want them to be, but they never will be –and I am completely satisfied with never being satisfied.
I think there’s a reason we can’t travel through time. I can come back and walk my exact footsteps from nine months ago—but I will never be anyone but my present self and will never be moving any direction but forward. I will never have to answer to OR feel responsible for that impressive, naive girl from Institute.
It’s a good thing, too, because the issues of the future are far too pressing to jumble them up with the problems of the past.