Friday, June 13. Late in the evening.
This is my last night in Muncie as a resident here in Halteman Villas.
I’ve spent the day packing boxes at home. And I’m happy to say that I’ve never been more prepared for a move than I am right now. Yes, I still have a short list of things to do on Saturday, but when the guys from Wooten Moving arrive at 8 a.m., I’m ready with more boxes than they can count. Jesse Diaz, my teaching assistant, helped me today with the boxing of CDs, wall decorations, and my wardrobe. I’m grateful for his help, especially since this is more fun when two are involved.
Meryl brought me dinner tonight – lasagna and Caesar salad from Fazoli’s. We went to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream afterward.
After dinner, I drove the Penske truck to campus and loaded the boxes from both offices, along with my leather desk chair and office refrigerator. I wrote notes for Alan Alder and John Scheib, my successors here, and left them on their desks. John now has the magic master keys waiting for him when he next comes in. At 8.20 p.m. tonight, I motored from Ball State University for the last time as an employee.
The act of leaving – on a quite Friday evening, with clearing skies and cooling temperatures – was one of peace, of contentment, of knowledge of a job well done and now complete.
I’ve left very little for John to clean up. Alan steps into a performance group that is healthier in spirit and artistry than they’ve been in anyone’s memory. I feel good for both of them about the work they are inheriting, about the foundation on which they now build.
As for me, I’m sentimental and nostalgic, but I’m incredibly excited about this new era in my life. Last night I spent two hours on a conference call with the Gateway Men’s Chorus board. This new avenue of artistry and collaboration leaves me giddy with anticipation and hope sometimes. The work at Webster will be substantial, and I leave here knowing that I’m ready and able to make a mark on the music program, and to help in moving that program to a national level.
Muncie, for all of its not-big-city faults, has been very good to me. With five different ensembles here, I’ve experienced some powerful moments of music and art in performance. I leave behind a strong but small circle of dear friends. I’ve been blessed to be part of Grace Episcopal Church. I have former students who are now friends and colleagues. I’ve traveled to two new continents thanks to Ball State University, and save for the 02-03 school year I’ve journeyed abroad every year since I arrived here. I’ve learned to be a professor in all the meanings of that word. I understand the peculiarities of college teaching better now, and I’ve proven to myself and others that I can gain both promotion and tenure. I’ve found a new career path, thanks to this school, although I remember saying 15 years ago that I was going to be a university administrator one of these days.
After I finished packing tonight, and after a much-needed shower, I settled in to watch one of my favorite movies, Cinema Paradiso. (Finding a clear view of the TV amongst the boxes was a challenge, though!) I may not have seen this movie since I moved here, so the flick had more-than-usual emotional impact.
I’ve not cried at all about leaving Muncie, but tonight, as I sat alone here at home, surrounded by boxes and none of my usual comforts, I let loose a cathartic volley of sobs. These tears were prompted by the movie, but I’ll not be naïve enough not to acknowledge that they were also tears founded in the sadness of leaving a place that I’ve grown to love. One doesn’t spend eight years (almost to the day) in a city, living and working with others, without feeling some grief upon departing. One doesn’t put down roots without feeling an ‘ouch’ when the roots are dislodged.
I thank God for these tears, since they ever remind me that grief is the price we pay now for having lived and loved. My tears, then, are tears both of sorrow and affirmation.
So, tomorrow is Saturday. I’ll load my belongings into a rental truck. I stay in a hotel here in town. And I’ll bid farewell to my condo, my home for these last eight years, and leave out into a new life in St. Louis.
Thanks be to God.