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GOODBYE, BARTLETT HIGH SCHOOL!

Goodbye, Bartlett High!

Last Exit.

Last Exit.

Today was my last day as AV Director & Auditorium Manager after thirteen years and ten months of service. I just found out late last week and have only told a couple people until now.

This was not my choice, the district stated that BHS wanted to move in a different direction with the present position. As a non-union employee, I always knew this could be a possibility.

That said, I’ll blog all about it at some future point in time. Let’s just say, the past five to six months have been utter hell for me. At least now I can move on.

I’ll miss working with the students and watching them grow and discover themselves most of all. I’ve made many friendships that I hope with continue to grow as time goes by.

For now, I wanted to share a few parting images that will forever remind me of BHS. Odd, little things that most people wouldn’t even notice.

Last look at the tech booth, stripped of all personality.

Last look at the tech booth, stripped of all personality.

This was written on the wall years ago. Not sure why but it always makes me smile.

This has been on the wall forever. Not sure why but it always makes me smile.

A lock someone attached to an auditorium seat years ago. I don't know how many times I thought about cutting it off.

A lock someone attached to an auditorium seat years ago. I don’t know how many times I thought about cutting it off.

For my 'boys' in the shop. You made my job on the musical easy the past couple of years.

For my ‘boys’ in the shop. You made my job on the musical easy the past few years.

This I won't miss. The ignorant vandalism of a few heartless students.

This I won’t miss… The ignorant vandalism of a few heartless students.

Keys no more. Carried this wad of keys for far too long.

Keys no more. I carried this wad of keys for far too long.

Every work day for nearly 14 years, this was the first and last image of BHS.

Every work day for nearly 14 years, this was the first and last image of BHS.

What Is A Family?

Monday night we had dinner with Nicole’s family before they moved back to Texas. Over the course of conversation, Nicole gave me flack about slacking off, not blogging every day and asked why I hadn’t mentioned her in my blog.  So here it is Nicole… you’ve been blogged!

Wednesday morning we said our goodbyes. I played peekaboo with 2 year old Alana, one last time… wondering if she’d remember the next time I see her. (Her mom, Peggy, kept saying, “It’s only been an 18 month visit”.) They loaded in the car to head for the airport. As they pulled out the gate and I walked back around the corner of the house to go inside, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t suddenly get a little teary-eyed. A lot of years and milestones have bonded us all together.

Peggy's "Annual Surprise Face".

I met Peggy (Nicole’s Mom) back in 1992, working with Elgin Community Theatre. The following year, I directed her as Mama Rose in Gypsy and we we cemented a bond that eventually blossomed to include her family. I met Michael shortly thereafter and our family was born. It’s been an honor to share so many memories and experiences over the past nearly two decades. We’ve shared so many family experiences… I don’t know what else to call it. We’ve celebrated holidays, birthdays, gone on family vacations, cruises…I worked for Nicole in retail for a while… you name it. Among my favorite memories with Nicole was our legendary all-night potato salad creation on the eve of her wedding. (She later claimed to have improved our recipe but don’t believe it!)

Webster’s definition of  family includes: “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family>”.

I say family, like love, defies definition.

Happy and sad… the good and the bad… your FAMILY are the people that stick by you no matter what. Family has a much broader meaning today than when I was growing up. It’s much more than blood ties or marriages. I know there are still people that only believe family is family but they are missing so much. I guess a lot has to do with how you want to look at your relationships and how set you are in defining with labels. In terms of definition, today, most family units are labeled as broken or dysfunctional if they don’t meet certain criteria and fall in the category of a healthy family environment.We’d all be better off if we didn’t try to put everything neatly in little boxes.

I would prefer to define family by the bonds that exist… many unexplainable… that forever tie us together. With a divorce rate of more than 50%, second marriages, the addition and deletion of spouses and siblings’ families…the legal family constantly changes with time. Today the chosen family plays an important role in the broader definition, creating a rich network of relationships; adding to, or replacing the traditional family unit. I really hate the term ‘chosen family’ because I think it’s something that happens, not by choice. It’s just destined to be.

Alana wanting my camera to take her own pictures.

I don’t want to water down or down play the meaning of family by any means. Often we may refer to a group of people we associate with as family in order to show bonds and commitment… theatre family, church family… business leaders are infamous for referring to their companies as families. (Who treats their family the way some companies do?) Those relationships are not the true family I identify with the most.

My own biological family was scattered around the country over the years but have now all settled back in Central Florida where I grew up. (Except for me… still the wayward child living many miles away.) We usually see each other once or twice a year and keep in touch by phone and social networking. (I’m far more aware of what my family is doing through Facebook than I was before it existed.) Michael and I have considered moving down there– but now that Michael is running the family business, that isn’t an option anytime in the near future.

So now Nicole is back in Texas getting settled in her house that she so desperately missed. (No redecorating phone calls yet?) Alana will probably forget our games of Peek-a-Boo and Itsy-Bitsy Spider… Peggy is already planning her next trip down and hopefully Michael and I will be able to plan a visit in the near future. In spite of the distance, they are here in our hearts.

Family is important. The bonds are unlike those of most other relationships… the history, understanding and the support. I’ve been very blessed to have these people in my life.

I was told repeatedly after coming out that I’d have a sad life with no family.

They were SO wrong.