I taught freshman composition at two upstate New York colleges in the early 1990s. My last class met for its final session at the conclusion of the fall 1995 semester, two decades ago. From the start of that school term, I knew that this was going to be my last semester teaching or attempting to teach or referring to myself as a teacher; of course, two of those three classes that had my name on the syllabus that semester were two of the best groups of students I had yet worked with and almost made me regret my decision to retire at age 27. Almost.
The decision never was mine to make; I was not a good teacher, and I am grateful that I learned this on the sooner side of “sooner or later.” I am, maybe, an entertaining lecturer and an even better student; as a twenty-something freshman composition instructor, I must have been execrable. It’s too bad that I had barely made even the faintest start in my pose as a long-suffering anything by the time it was all over.