My summer term Brit Survey class is taking the final as I type this, and one young man has already told me this is his final college class — he has jumped through all the hoops. Meanwhile, kids are coming in today for the first of several summer orientation sessions, and later this afternoon, I may be reviewing writing samples for placement in either Freshman Comp or Basic Writing (what used to be called “remedial” English).
So the cycle continues, goodbye and hello, but for the first time in about 15 years, since I left the magazine to pursue the Ph.D., I won’t be much a part of it this fall. Because of the trial, still scheduled to begin on 12 August, I’m on a de facto sabbatical for fall semester, and won’t be back in the classroom until January.
Of course, the trial itself is a strange country to me. I have testified in a criminal trial once before, but the stakes weren’t nearly as high as they will be this time. I’ll be spending six weeks in Northern Kentucky, perhaps in the courtroom for much of that time, perhaps not, depending on whether or not I’m released as a witness after I’m finished with my testimony. That’s just one of the uncertainties that comes with this, and while I have as much tolerance for ambiguity as most literary scholars, I find it very difficult to get and keep my bearings.
I’ve spoken before about my effort to discover the “new normal” after the murders of my parents. A great deal of that has been bound in the wait for this trial and what it reveals. There won’t be true closure there — I don’t believe in any such thing on this side of the veil. Still, I’m hoping some measured territory will be defined, some clarity will be available, some order made accessible.
Cast loose for a time from my familiar places and patterns of academia, I hope for a new level of orientation.