I handed in my last assignment for the Grad. Dip. Ed. first thing yesterday morning. I walked away from the submission box in front of the Department Office of Education Policy and Management feeling quite dazed. A grey light was seeping through the windows than run above head level in the corridor. No one was about except for the Department Secretary moving through her routine - computer on, 'boom' goes the Mac start up sound, clinking of china and hissing of urn as she makes herself a cup of tea, bustling noises as she rummages through her bag and filing cabinets.
As I walk down the stairs to ground floor I watch a few other students and academics dosie-doe in and out of the library sliding doors. In the weak light the rows of be-linened trestle tables and folding chairs set up for a conference in the Asia Centre seem absurdly optimistic - or kind of like the set for a New Wave video, the ones that always have people in top hat and tails dining in fine style outside at the water's edge. There appear to be no people around who are going to eat at these tables. Besides which, in true university logistic style, the linen table cloths are slowly being dusted with organic matter of dubious hygiene. Several gardeners are digging away planting out hedges and laying down mulch in vast quantities just across the path. Hey! I want some for my garden...
I am at a loose end. Then I remember that I have some errands to attend to. I need to register with the Victorian Institute of Teaching if I am going to be allowed to teach next year. This requires getting a stat. dec. and documents certified. I also have to work out what I need to send to the school that has decided to employ me so that their offer of emplyment does not lapse. I wander into the Union building (which, compared to my earlier coursework student days has not seen much of me this year). I go into the Union basement where the public phones are. A grumpy looking ex-bouncer sized guy is mopping the floor with the demeanor of someone who might do something painful to you if you walk on the bits he has just washed. I skirt the wet bits gingerly. Just as I get hold of the school's HR person on the phone a piercing noise just about blows apart my ear drum. I am standing next to a pa speaker and the fire alarm has gone. A great way to start with the HR person at place of employ - hello, my name is blah, querying blah ... screech screech screech!!
The day ends with me crashing the send off party for the applied seminar two friends were in and getting tipsy on the free grog. I watch their presentations and we all feel happy and odd and strange as we talk about what jobs we have for next year, or look nervous because the job offer hasn't come yet.
And what was the past, just previous years of study and struggle in academia, has become that different past that is closed off as an era of your life. You know that life is going to be radically different from now on, that the path you thought you were on has petered out and you've taken up with a new one that goes into entirely different country.