Part of my Lenten practice this year is Seven Sun Salutations, at least, in part, for the alliterative value of that practice. It reminds me of that bit on “Sesame Street” with the baker. “Seven…sun…salutations!” The other part is letting myself mourn my old life. One of my godmothers mentioned to me that it was okay to do this.
It seems ungrateful. I am reluctant to say anything negative about my move, since, after all, I chose it, and I am so lucky to get to do this, and you get to have all these great adventures, and blah, blah, blah, but my godmother said I could, so I will.
“You had roots,” she said. I did. I mean, I do.
Last Friday I went straight from work to Penn Station. One of my classes on Friday was quite unpleasant. I will repeat that my limits allow for kids yelling, not sitting down, throwing small objects, using profanity. They do not allow for kids touching me, yelling profanity at me (once or twice a year max), throwing anything that could actually hurt anyone. The unpleasant hour was within my limits. Merely I won’t shut up, I won’t sit down, I won’t do any work. With my freshmen, they are certainly not perfectly behaved, but on our bad days, instituting a bit of silent reading time has always been enough to settle us to productivity. Not Friday.
Year nine of teaching, and yes, I still have times, days, I think, maybe I am not cut out for this. I suck. I do not have that je ne sais quoi that makes people listen. MLK had that, but then, so did Hitler.
The previous day, I had taken kids on a great field trip, got to see lots of them smile and say things like, “I’ve never eaten dumplings before!” and one kid had written me this uber-sweet thank you letter.
There are some things in teaching I’m good at, some I’m not.
I finished my day with a teacher meeting where we shared some of our regrets, weaknesses, and fears. That helped.
Being a teacher fosters both pride and humility. Lots of both.
The train ride to Philadelphia was long enough I felt myself come back into my body. I pulled my suitcase from the train station to the art museum. A guy in front of me on the sidewalk said I looked French. The beret. Then he said he had met some Italian tourists recently who asked how to get to “Baltimoray.” Doesn’t everything sound better in Italian? Of course it does, we agree.
Everyone at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was elaborately friendly. It was like I was in Georgia, but no one had an accent. “Is there anything else I can do for you? Anything in particular you want to see?” the ticket sellers said. “Hi, how are you?” several of the guards said as I walked by. I can’t remember a museum guard ever greeting me.
I met my cousin that evening, and he hugged me. We went out to dinner, and someone said, “I can tell you’re related.”
The next day I met an old friend, and she said offhandedly, “You know how I am,” and I do.
Between the two of them, they have known me 54 years.
I miss being able to help people because I know who they should talk to, where they should go for this or that. I miss playing hostess, which I did a lot during my mansion days. I miss introducing people to each other, hoping they will enjoy each other’s company or somehow benefit each other. I miss knowing what is going on. I miss having so many people I love spending time with, time that is hours of just talking. I miss knowing where I want to go, what I want to eat.
At the Philadelphia museum, I saw this piece by Michael Snow. Snow took a metal tub and set objects in it, poured in some grey liquid plastic, put more random stuff in, poured more plastic in. On the left is the now-hardened bin. On the right is a pile of white gloves. In the middle are 22 wooden slabs. A Philadelphia-friendly brunette young woman says, “Would you like to participate in our interactive display here?”
Of course I would. I put on the gloves and pawed through the pile of slabs, as directed. They are images of the tub being created, object by object, gluey grey plastic and more gluey grey plastic. Things being engulfed. They were in that tub now. Sort of. They were no longer accessible.