There’s this moment- if you’re lucky, a day or so, between worrying about last term and thinking about the new one- when you remember why you gave up that job in the public school, even though you might have had to take a pay cut. You recall how nice is is to be able to answer “Graduate Degree” on those customer satisfaction surveys, how nice it is to have letters that follow your name, even if it doesn’t correlate to more zeros on your check.
It’s walking down the glass-panelled, glossy-floored hall that smells like old books, and discreetly listening to the people in their offices as you stroll by. It’s hearing the names of places you rarely think about, mathematical equations you left behind irrevocably before the GRE, ancient obscure arguments about Descartes’ position on the soul.
Students brush past in their hoodies emblazoned with the University’s name, their hair messily tied back, Uggs or Birkenstocks or flip flops tapping, though it’s 40 degrees outside. Their backpacks seem to want to encumber them eternally, but you know it’s just ’till May.
It’s the empty break room, the coffee that was made a few hours ago, not even theoretically freshly roasted, and the powdered creamer someone’s spilled on the cabinet in a rush to get to their 10am lecture. You grab the second-to-last muffin and a flimsy cup of coffee and retreat to your office, where your colleagues are discussing relative clause usage and the inconsistencies of cultural time.
A student is waiting, and wants to know her score on the final. She’s one of the ones who really got it this semester, one of those for whom the lightbulb was perpetually shining.
Her eyes when you tell her her grade, her breathless “Thank You”.
Sipping your coffee. Starting it all again.