The walls are stripped bare, with only unreachable staples, leftover velcro and miniscule push pin holes left as evidence of what used to be.
The last time I had seen these bare walls was 10 months ago, as I stepped into my very own classroom for the first time. The walls were freshly painted, I had boxes of new IKEA furniture, and this classroom was mine - my own - completely under my control.
It was my blank canvas.
Ten months ago, I felt nervous yet excited to make this blank canvas my own. It’s crazy to think that it has been less than a year since I began my work, but here I am, leaving it bare yet again to be painted over, memories erased, for a new artist.
Stirrings of regret have been surfacing in my mind this week, and I can’t help but question whether or not my decision had been made too hastily, too selfishly, too dependent on the extremes of my emotions.
Did I give up too early? How could so much have changed within 10 months? Is it possible that the dreams I had for this space had faded so quickly into nothingness? What if I could have stayed another year or two, preserved those memories, perfected my art, and made this canvas my home?
But I catch myself. I’m not giving up. Change does not mean I am running away. My decision did not come from fear of the present, but excitement for what could be in the future. And in that moment, I realize. I am not leaving this job to move away from something. I am leaving to move forward.
I created my memories on those blank walls, and it’s time for someone else to do the same in that space. But the uncertainty I have for the future - that is my new blank canvas. And it’s not confined to four walls, twenty-four children and one-hundred-eighty days. It is not limited by physical space and time, and it’s not one that I have to strip away when I decide to move forward. My new blank canvas will not preserve itself only in memory, and I do not have to erase its existence for the next artist. It is boundless, brimming with potential, and entirely up to me to create.
The next masterpiece is on the horizon.