Yesterday was a turning point in my life. Since August, 1982, I have been a law professor. Over the course of thirty-two years, I have taught over 4000 students various law courses, including copyright law, trademark law, antitrust law and contracts. The students I’ve taught have been overall very hard-working, determined, and excited to be in law school. I’ve enjoyed every semester, though perhaps not every day that I’ve taught during those semesters. Sometimes I was tired, impatient, or disappointed; sometimes the students were bored or unprepared or frustrated. But those were the rare days. Almost all the time, I loved being in the classroom. I loved helping students to learn, laughing with them, pushing them to try harder, and delighting in their successes. It was never boring for me; it was almost always fun and rewarding.
Yesterday was my last day teaching law students. After thirty-two years, I’ve decided to retire from the law school faculty and pursue other interests, including but not limited to genealogy. I was not tired of the students or teaching, but it was time for a change. I hope to find new ways to use my skills and love of teaching as a volunteer, working with a different type of student, teaching something other than law. I want to learn new things myself. I want time to do the things that I’ve not been able to do while working full time. But I will miss teaching law students and preparing them for a profession that they are so excited and proud to enter.
Yesterday I said goodbye to my students. I got choked up. It caught me by surprise how emotional I was, how sad I felt. I thought I would want to celebrate. I’d been counting down the days all year. Until this last week. Then suddenly I no longer was counting the days. It suddenly felt scary and sad. Don’t get me wrong. I have no second thoughts; I know this is the right thing for me and the right time to do it. But after 32 years, if I didn’t feel a little sad, what would that say about those 32 years? As my brother-in-law once said in a different context, if it doesn’t hurt when it’s over, it could not have been worth very much.
Yesterday is over; today I am processing what it meant. But tomorrow I will start thinking about what is ahead. I still have exams to grade, recommendation letters to write, one more faculty meeting, and graduation to attend. But after that I get to start a brand new chapter of my life. The third chapter. Chapter One was preparing to be an adult: childhood, adolescence, and education. Chapter Two was being an adult: raising a family, owning a home, having a profession. Chapter Three? I don’t know what Chapter Three will bring. I hope it brings new challenges, new experiences, new discoveries. I hope it brings time to reflect, time to give back, time to be with those I love, time to learn and write and think and read—all the things I love best. I know that a big part of Chapter Three will be learning more about my ancestors, more about my family. I know that this blog will be a big part of it as well. All my life I have wanted to write. This is my chance. This is my time. Tomorrow is here; yesterday is over.