“Staunton River High School. How can I help you.”
It’s raining. And there are tornado warnings. And I feel unsafe.
“And how can I help you?”
I don’t have an umbrella.
“SIGH. Where are you?”
In the back parking lot.
“Ok. Hang on.“
And it may have taken him a solid 12 minutes. To get to me. Partly because he had to find a passable route that was not flooded. But mostly because my Jazzy Cat boss is never, ever, in a hurry.
But he came. And handed me an umbrella. And went on about his day.
See. I just don’t think I can have that conversation with my new boss. Not right away.
It took me six years to get my Staunton River people to fully understand how to manage me.
I’m a pretty awkward person. I feel like I’ve given y’all enough examples to support that statement.
But mostly, I just don’t even know how to be out in the world. Around people.
In truth, the only place that I feel fully secure and fully myself is with my family. They have to love and accept me no matter what. They are my family. They have to.
But everywhere else. I’m pretty consistently on guard in social situations. Anticipating the moment when I no longer serve a purpose among the people. So I can leave before they have a chance to reject me. (I have been known to drive an hour to a social gathering. Just to turn my car around and drive back home. Because too many people means too much chance of rejection. GJB calls this “Pulling a Sunshine.” So that’s a thing, now. Cool.)
I’ve been pretty lucky, though. And it has absolutely been luck. To have found some groups. That I can generally feel fairly secure around.
Not entirely. Never entirely. But close.
And I was lucky enough to have found that at Staunton River High School.
It’s a place with so many flaws. And issues. All of Bedford County public schools seems to be. Hell, all of public schools seem to be. The world is a pretty awful place, really.
And I feel a huge sense of relief, mixed with a lot of guilt, to be leaving.
Because I found people there. That would step up without a seconds hesitation when I needed help.
When my family member was sick. And I broke down on Tina Fey. And Forensics AF. Smack in the middle of full on pre-pandemic SOL testing. Their immediate response was, go. We’ve got this.
But it was mostly the little things. Their acceptance of who I am. My desperate need for attention. Balanced with my desperate need to be left the fuck alone. That they showed by throwing bags of Doritos at my head. Leaving chocolate bars on my desk. Making me shirts. Making me entire bulletin boards. Making me goddess cakes. Giving me books. Giving me gift bags of leftovers they’ve cleaned out from their desk drawers.
Never requiring too much of me while making sure I had the support and care that I needed.
It was them telling me how amazing I am. Constantly. Because they know I need to hear that. Because I know I am. But also…I’m not entirely sure…
It was their serenades in the halls. Their patience as I broke down. Yet again. (I’m a very emotional person.) (But I don’t need counseling.) Their Employee of the Month nominations. (Three times EOM, y’all. Although, I’m pretty sure every one of those were awarded only because no one else wanted to have to do my job. And appreciation is my love language. Probably. I don’t actually know anything about love languages. But it sounds right.)
It was Tina Fey and I laughing to the point of peeing our pants as we collapsed on the sidewalk in front of the school on our way to tell a struggling senior that she did it. She passed. She was going to get to graduate.
It was chasing Tommy across campus to get my phone back. And finding my school pictures in the most random places. And always knowing when he’d been in my office because dammit, where is all of my stuff?
“Who let Tommy in my office unsupervised???”
It was all of the conversations in my office. And it was all of the just sitting quietly in my office. Because sometimes I just need the company. But not the conversation. And my people get that.
It was walking out of building four. On my very last day. To see my car driving away from me.
“Dammit! Who let Tommy in my office unsupervised???”
It was getting to work with two of the boys I claimed as my own sons. That grew up in my house. Played sports with my kids. That called me mom. Becoming two of my favorite co-workers.
It was finding notes from Work Boyfriend. On my desk. On my white board. On the chalk board she bought me for my office. Making sure I felt loved. And beautiful. Always.
It was knowing that. Whenever I put out a plea for proctoring help. I knew. Without a doubt. That I would get people. These exhausted. Overworked. Underpaid teachers. Offering to give up their planning period. Yet again. To help.
And even when I’d found the help. The ones who would still stop by. And check. Just to make extra sure.
It was the teachers. These exhausted. Overworked. Underpaid teachers. Who would walk around making sure people had flowers on their desks. Or treats in their mailboxes.
It was the daily laughter. Because these people are hilarious.
It was the quiet hugs. Because I was yet again. Breaking down. (Ok. Maybe I a little counseling wouldn’t hurt.)
It was the times when Confections Goddess was on vacation. And MC Chap let me write the names on the call out board. And fully editorialize the comments section. (Note: there is no comments section on the call out board…)
It was everyone’s patience with my wordy emails. Because I got shit to say. And my words entertain the hell out of me. So, y’all gonna have them forced onto you, too.
It was going back today. To sit in on interviews for my position. And hearing my director tell people. “Whoever takes this job will have big shoes to fill.” And trying not to tear up. Because dammit. I do not need counseling.
And then. As I was turned towards the door. Waving to Confections Goddess. And Tommy. And Work Boyfriend. Hearing my principal say, “We’re so lucky that Sunshine is leaving…”
And I swear to fuck she paused.
Like. That was just the end of the sentence.
“You didn’t let me finish. We’re so lucky that you’re leaving on good terms.”
Yes you are.
It was sitting in Tina Fey’s room. For an hour. After the interviews were done. Talking. Knowing that this really was the last time I was going to be there. In that place. With her.
I am desperately going to miss those people with everything I have in me.
And yeah. I think I really could use that counseling now.