Well it’s pretty much officially over. At least for the rest of the Fellowship. The other 55 state teachers of the year are mostly done with their official reigns by now, and we had our last formal meeting this weekend in Princeton, NJ, and New York City.
In my final speech to them, I likened my journey to that of Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings (although I’m not really sure what the ring represents, or why I’d need to huck it into a volcano.) I’ve been selected from my humble little shire in rural Oregon for a monumental task. The other state teachers are like the elves, humans, dwarves, wizards, and so on that all have different skills and personalities (although I don’t have a freaky looking creature stalking me talking incessantly about his “precioussss.”) Our final gathering felt sort of like the gathering of the Fellowship in the elf village before Frodo embarks on his quest (although the elf village didn’t have cool wastebaskets that opened automatically when you waved your hand over them.)
After all of the support that my colleagues have given me, and despite the fact that they have shared with me so much, it’s now just down to two of us (although we can all email each other and stuff, which wasn’t available in Middle Earth.) It’s now just me and Jen, who of course is represented by Sam-wise (although Jen is waaay better looking, has no hair on her feet, and isn’t always saying “if there’s any good left in the world, Mr. Frodo…”)
But she’ll be with me until the very end, no matter what. And while the other teachers may understand the battlefield more completely, no one is more loyal or supportive than my wife.
She knows me, and is there for me like no one else can be. Without Jen, I wouldn’t be here, nor would I have the strength to carry this burden.
It’s been a few years since I’ve read the Lord of the Rings (or seen the movies,) so I don’t have a great quote from Frodo to sum it up. But Jen is now sitting beside me on the plane on the way back from the New Jersey elf village having supported me every step of the way. And she’ll be beside me until the end.
[If you’d like to help her be physically beside me, please donate to the Spouse Of the Year Travel Opportunity Fund Unlimited at SOYTOFU.org)