a required taste for the pretentious as all get out





the hardest thing i've ever had to do
May 20, 2006, 11:42 am

"I have a lot to be proud of in my life," I stammered, and then stopped. They were smiling still, and I wanted to remember that image, because I knew in a minute they wouldn't be. "I've never been prouder of anything though, as much as I've been proud of this theatre program. Watching it grow, and watching you grow with it, has meant the world to me." Still smiles.

"But it's no secret that this year has been rough," here's where the tears come, "and there are a number of things that I need to do in my life that involves a lot of time to make myself get better and to get my life on track."

Bewildered smiles.

"This has been my last year as Director."

Stunned expressions, a few audible gasps, and then they start: the crumpling brows, the pressed lips, and God, Leann's mascara down her face. But it's not just her, it's all of them. The boys, too, and not just my fabulously flamboyant ones, all of them.

I continue on: my health, my stress level, how all I've ever wanted to do is teach and how it's hard to maintain that and still be at school three hours a day beyond it. How my family has seen my change, how my other life and friends have seen me change, and what my doctors have said.

"I'm sorry," I cried, "I'm so, so, so sorry."

"You have nothing to apologize for," said the Valedictorian.

"You have always made us better because you believed in us," said Grease's Danny, "We believe in you, Ms. B."

And then the group hug, with tears, tears, tears, and sobs.

"Wow, do you think we might be the Drama Department?"

Danny suggested a game of Bunny, and we all agreed, thinking it would erase some of the redness around our eyes, and then Kenickie spoke up,

"Wow," he said, "it just really makes you think of how many things in life connect to Harry Potter."

I Love this kid.

"You know Ms. B., Dumbledore's Army didn't exist because Dumbledore was around to lead the kids and guide them. It existed because the kids believed so strongly in what he had taught them; it was the leadership he left behind and that he believed in them to do the right thing. You haven't formed an army of theatre, Ms. B., you've formed an army of goodness and truth. Look at all these great kids you've inspired. It's the B.A.!"

What do you say to that?

And the meeting was over, and they all hugged me and cried with me and told me they loved me and respected me and that they understood. And I hugged them and told them I loved them and I respected them and that I was sorry.

All except one.

And it's not the thousands of tears that have stuck with me, it's that one of my kids looked at me, shook her head, and left without saying goodbye. She represents my deepest fear: that she thinks I'm a quitter and that I'm doing this for all the wrong reasons, but that mostly I've let her down.

They're getting someone better; someone who'll keep our studio clean and organized and pay bills on time and care about sets and ticket sales and spend every moment making it better instead of maybe saying "That's as good as it'll get." Her name is Nicole.

It hurts already.

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