window frost, student work, and not regretting my age

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

These are the months when I never sleep.  The annual report months, the news magazine months, the teaching months, the cold ache in the bones.  I would say that I woke to the frost this morning, but that would imply that I had slept. 

Still, beneath two blankets and one burning bulb I read the work of students and was not alone through the dark.  I was taking one final look, for example, at Hairography, the book that my husband and I have created on behalf of the YoungArts writers—the students' work in response to a prompt I gave them, their faces and hair as Bill so magically captured both on a windswept day in Miami.  It's a beautiful book.  How could it not be?  And it will be in the hands of these young writers soon.

Later in the night I began to read the first "official" work of my sixteen Penn students.  They were writing about a journal I had asked them to keep, reflecting on a Joan Didion essay I'd asked them to read.  What is the value of the words you write in the heat of a moment?  What will they teach you about now, sometime in the distant when?  Who do your words tell you you are, and who do they tell you you can be?

I was reading their thoughts through the dark, closing my eyes to think after each essay was marked.  At one point I looked up and the sun was near.  A text message revealed that my son had arrived, in plenty of time, for his first (brisk and early) interview of this day.

It's all about the young for me these days.  It's why I don't regret my age, perhaps—or don't regret it too severely.  

3 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

Gorgeous frost photo! As for getting old versus acting young, I can't think of any youngsters who could keep up with your pace. I hope you'll sleep tonight.

Becca said...

Being in touch with young people, hovering around in their orbit, breathing their air - it is the elixir of the fountain of youth.

I miss that, now that I'm not regularly sharing space and time with them.

Lilian Nattel said...

That's beautiful, Beth.

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