Last Day of Classes

There's something wonderful and strange about the last day of classes. The hallways are electric with excitement, of summer plans being whispered in hushed tones. Flip-flops slapping the tile floor. Backpacks emptied of textbooks. The classrooms, dirty and worn-down, breathe sighs of relief that send a ripple of musky air through the building.

I stare at my cubicle and wonder if I've got everything I need.


While I do have summer plans, and final projects to turn in, it's different to be on the other side of things as a graduate student. For one, I'm lucky enough to be teaching while I'm here. This means that today, I had the distinct honor of watching my students fidget as they handed in their last assignments. In this moment, when the summer plans and playful jokes end, that the weight of what they've done weighs heavy on them. Final grades are coming. There's no turning back. I know the feeling. I still go through it myself with my grad classes.

My students turn in their papers and leave. Most of them I'll never see again. A few linger behind and we talk about the benefits of keeping a scrap folder on your computer and how to beat writer's block. They tell me that they've never written so many stories in their lives as they had this past semester. I want to say, well, this is college, and, you should be proud.

As I climb the stairs and walk back to my office, I discover a giant spill, as if someone knocked over a glass full of ocean and didn't bother cleaning it up. The room next to my office is open and the smell of hot pizza and subs drifts out. Students gather around the pizza box while their teacher fumbles with the paper plates. I smile at them and head to my own office, silent save for the vibration of their chatter through the walls.


"That's everything," I say, standing in my cubicle and a stack of final papers in my hands. The papers and portfolios all fit in my tote bag. Barely. I admire the artwork I have tacked up on the pumpkin-colored walls with some sadness, knowing that I won't see them again until fall. I gave a silent salute to my Peeta Mellark poster, the printed out copies of Dorothy Parker's poems, and the fairy tale illustrations I had scanned and printed from various library books.

When I return, I'll be a third-year graduate student. My final year in the creative writing program. This means that, among other things, I'll be coming back with a full manuscript in my hands: my thesis.

So summer for me will be made up of paper cuts, of long nights of writer's block, and indulgent purchases made in the name of "research."  

What I wish I could do with all the paper I've accumulated this semester.