Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blogging for the Blogless - Volume 1

Ten Years Ago.
September 22, 1995.

I was the newly elected student council president of *** ****** **** School; although, I’m quite sure most of the faculty there could have made that prediction years earlier when I was the first to read in Margaret Gregory’s kindergarten class or the classroom monitor extraordinaire of the first grade. I was thirteen years old and ready to take on the world. I wore a smiley-face-stamped penny that had been given to me by my sixth grade teacher years earlier on a cheap silver chain my mother had found for this purpose. I knew the names and birthdays of all 43 members of my class, and most often I could predict what kind of dessert they would bring for the treat on that day. I was thirteen years old, and I wish that I could say I was as naive and immature as the kids I spend my days with now, but, in truth, I just wasn’t. There is no particular reason why; though as I have grown older, I have come to believe that I was born an old soul, the reincarnation of someone who had learned most, but not all, of what she was destined to discover in life.

Five Years Ago.
September 22, 2000.

I closed my eyes and fell asleep in the top bunk of my dorm room in Justin Hall on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College in the lonely town of Rensselaer, Indiana. I closed my eyes and had a dream…and when I woke up, nothing was the same.

The bathroom on our floor was mint green with fake marble showers and sterile white rubber shower curtains. To your left there were four toilet stalls. By this time in my college career, I had claimed the second as my own. My roommate chose the third. If you turned right upon entering the common sink area, you would find the showers: four of them. The end ones were best; from there one could control the temperature of all the showers on that wing of the floor, and so the people in the end showers were comfortable while all others simply submitted to that preference.

In my dream, I heard a weak voice calling to me from the showers; it was a voice I knew well and one that could not be ignored. The first time I had the dream, I could not find the girl, though I searched the floor like a mother for her child. The next few times I had the dream, I found the girl whose voice I heard. She was curled up in the corner of the last shower stall, naked and crying. I reached for her, but she would not come; I called her name, and when she looked up, I realized it was my face on my dead sister’s body. My sister died when I was two years old, and I cannot conjure a memory of her no matter how hard I try. But it was her body to which my face belonged. For several nights, I called to this girl in my dreams, trying to answer her plea. She never moved. The last night I had that dream, I went to her and called to her, trying to help. Seconds later, she was carried out on a stretcher, simply a corpse. In the dream, I did not cry.

I cried every day for nearly a year after that dream…this was my freshman year.

One Year Ago.
September 22, 2004.

I am a first-year high-school teacher living at home. I am in the “I want to kill myself” segment of the first-year teacher survival calendar. I wake up every morning at 4:50 am and make a 45-minute-drive to what I hope will become my dream job. Though I am barely awake, I strive to inspire, encourage, and stretch the minds of the fourteen-year-old spirits that slink into their seats each hour and dare me to try to teach them. I find that though I have been doing this only a month, I am good at this job. Between every hour, the teachers are required to stand in the hallway and monitor the kids’ passing period. I imagine that my department chairwoman is glaring at me and secretly plotting to catch me in the act of something terribly wrong. My vice principal observes me twice a week, and though his reports are more than glowing, I wish he would leave me alone. More than anything, I miss my friends. I miss my apartment and the women I lived with. I miss ****** and **** and being footsteps away from them, both literally and figuratively. They still call at 3 in the morning when they are drunk at Core XI and want to talk. I always answer, but have taken to reminding them that I will be waking up in 2 hours instead of going to bed then. My life is changing dramatically, and I have no time to sit back and take notice.

September 21, 2005.

I called my father to say happy birthday. He recently allowed himself a cell phone, though he never answers it. I wish more than anything that he could retire. He works more now than I ever remember him working when I was at home. I call around 4 because I know he won’t answer, and I know that if he does, I won’t say any of the things I want to say. He doesn’t, and so I tell him that I am glad that he is my father and that I am his daughter, and that I am proud to have a part of him in me to be able to pass on to my children, and that I love him. I mean all of these things. Not living under the same roof has been good for us. He calls me when he is opening his presents: 3 polo shirts from Target that he can wear when he goes golfing. He is terrible at presents because he never really wants anything and he never really likes anything. Things are just things to him, unless they are jeeps, computers, or golf clubs. He says that one would have been enough, and I know it would have, but I have learned generosity from people who are not my father, and I believe he deserves three. I call my mother before I go to bed because I think I might always do this because I love her and she is my friend and I feel empty if I do not.

September 23, 2005.

I will go to school and teach poorly-planned lessons at the end of a long week of testing. My freshmen will earn the privilege of playing trivia on the dry-erase boards and inevitably lose the privilege before the hour is up. Some kid will write “dick” or “shit” on it and hold it up just to see how those four letters look in marker pigment on the white plastic, 5 inches high and held up for all to see. I will calmly collect their boards because I will not be surprised, and they will complete the hour in silence. We will try again next week and it will take 40 minutes instead of 30 and the letters will only be 3 inches high.

In the evening, after practice, I will meet my friends at ******'* the local pizza place. We will be, as we always are, the youngest ones there, and the wait-staff will be incredibly rude to us even though we teach most of their grandchildren. We will smile and be obnoxiously saccharine, attempting to kill with kindness. We will regale each other with stories of school and laugh and speak the names of the “bad children” much too loudly and later we will worry that we were overheard. We will eat cheese and olive pizza.

Afterwards, we will go to the high school football game and be treated like celebrities as we wind our way through the throngs of teenagers who feel free and liberated outside of the school building. They will call to us and wave, point at us and smile. And we will know that we are making a difference. We will pretend we feel strangely about it, but we will smile clandestinely, knowing we are well-liked and respected.

I will go home alone and wonder about the boy from church who has called several times this week already and who has promised to call tomorrow to try for our first date. I will be anxious and excited. I will force myself not to imagine what might happen – good or bad – though in truth, I have already said my last name and his together, acknowledging the insanity of it all, and have wondered what kind of kisser he is.

One Year from now.
September 22, 2006.

Five Years from now.
September 22, 2010.

All that I know for sure is that I will have been done paying my car off by this time…and that I will have burned the payment book in effigy and kept its ashes in my glove compartment.

Ten Years from now.
September 22, 2015.

Most people believe that I am the kind of person with a well thought-out five-year plan. It turns out that I am not, nor do I want to be. I have realized that now that I am happy with where I am in life, it is not the most important thing to plan ahead. I love my job, I love my little life, and while there are obvious additions that should be made, I am quite content with the present…and to be true, I wish not to acknowledge that I will someday be 34.

Girl Friday


Brandy said...

Girl Friday - although I do think you should create your own blog, I am digging this whole "feature" idea. From now on, I will be looking forward to the first Wednesday of every month! :)

Number Twelve said...

Holy sh*t Becky... I read 1/2 way through and I'm thinking "You have a dead sister and she's in one of the shower stalls in Justin?????!!!!"

Girl Friday - Most excellent excellent excellent piece of work... you had me the whole way, until the number 34. You should know that 33 isn't that bad as far as I can tell :)