The Long Goodbye (the end of the Chadron chapter)

I’m writing this overdue post for the benefit of those of you who were frightened by the Facebook posts about me transitioning and possibly not making it over the mountains. It chronicles what I’ve been up to for the past month or so.

If you have ever packed to move, my packing photo shouldn’t scare you.


It gets messy. Really, really messy.

Why was I packing? The company I work for shut my program down due to what I call lack of interest. The intensive English preparation program for Chadron State College has been moved to beautiful downtown Denver (not where I am, by the way, I was moved someplace else, but that’s a story for the next post).

During the same month or so that I was packing, I was also teaching.


When I was halfway through my sophomore year of college, I was transferring from one school to another, and I asked my favorite professor, the one with the legit patches on the elbows of his jackets, the one who entered class each day with a chocolate Chiller in his hand, for a recommendation for study abroad. In addition to the sealed envelope, he gave me a copy of what he had written. It said that I would have been an even better student if I hadn’t had one foot out the door. With two of my last three students not wanting to stay in the Nebraska panhandle,. I know exactly what he meant. At the end, there were admissions essays mixed in with the Google Doc assignments for my class. So there was that going on, as well.

Simultaneously, I was packing the office.


Here on the left, I am sad because what I’m holding in my hand are the driving directions to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, which I visited with one of my student groups. It will be a very long time before I ever go there again. The magnificent photo is courtesy of Ethan.

On the right, we have that entire post office bin filled with nothing but books to ship.

Because no semester in Chadron is complete without a field trip to Keystone and Custer, SD, I rented the Ford Transit Connect one last time and cruised to the gateway to the Black Hills with the students. Here we have my side-by-side selfies with Gutzon Borglum. You’ve seen the one on the left before: it’s from November 2015. The one on the right is from 4/25 of this year.

Gutzon Borglum selfies

And no trip to western South Dakota is complete without photos with the rocks…

On “Star Wars Day,” (psht! According to Google, the release date for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was May 25th, 1977, 21 days after the glorious evening on which I was born) I turned 39. The students, ignorant of this momentous event, did not have to twist my arm very hard to get me to take them to Chadron’s own Mexican restaurant, Escaramuza, for lunch that day.

On 5 de mayo, we had our end-of-term ceremony. I invited everyone who had ever supported the program in any capacity, as a parting gesture. Ethan advised me to plan for 10 attendees including myself, teacher Burt and his wife Amanda, and the students. He overestimated the attendance by 3 people, but that didn’t stop us from giving our heartwarming speeches.

Sometime between April 6, when the “packing” photo was taken, and May 6, the day that the students left town to pursue their future plans, I re-learned the fine art of letting go of stuff. I let go of a lot. I took trash bag after trash bag of donations to the seniors and the Catholics and the Lutherans. I sold my things on and the CSC Facebook Swap Shop. Some of the things that I let go:

Letting Go

That dining table had stayed in my Mammaw’s garage attic for 10 years between 2004 and 2014. I bought it in 2002 and sold it for $50 less than I paid in 2016. The book cube I bought at the Goodwill in Summerlin in 2004 and lugged all over the country ever since. I paid $15 and sold it for $20. And still, there is so much STUFF that I haven’t let go. It’s in a storage facility in Denver awaiting an address to which it can be delivered. (I decided to give myself more than 3 days to find a place to live this time.)

Since my program was done and the movers were booked for any time Monday-Thursday the week of May 9, I spent the weekend of May 7-8 furiously finishing the packing. This included watching a YouTube video of how to fold a snuggie into a pillow! Yes, that exists. Watch it here.

I also re-watched the one about how to “bundle” clothes into a suitcase instead of rolling them.

I also watched many, many episodes of The Vampire Diaries. In fact, when I was anticipating this post to Ethan, he suggested titling it “Packing with The Vampire Diaries.” The Vampire Diaries is the best bad show ever, and while packing, I enjoyed it so much that I also watched The Rules of Attraction, Before I Disappear, and the first season only of Lost. 

On Tuesday, May 10, this happened. (Notice the high heel shoe chair.)


After the Penske truck left with my things, Ethan and I cleared out the classroom and office for checkout and key hand-over on Wednesday, May 11, after which I made my rounds, said my goodbyes, and set myself to cleaning the apartment and packing the car.

I took a break for one last 2nd street eggs at the Bean Broker with Joy and Kathy, the first two people who befriended me when I arrived in town.

In the evening, I wandered upstairs for one last visit with Domino before the apartment checkout and walk through.


Then, this happened. I tried to channel my mother as best I could.


And then I hit the road.

I have lived through this harrowing experience, but I would not have if it hadn’t been for my faraway family and friends relentlessly cheering me on.

Thank you all so much for your support, encouragement, and love. Everything has worked out splendidly so far, and I can’t wait to share news of it with you in upcoming posts. ❤


One thought on “The Long Goodbye (the end of the Chadron chapter)

  1. Of course you made it, you’re in good band’s, nothing less was expected. Great packing job, seriously. This is another terrific blog but I am looking forward to the next even more.

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