teaching the teachers, and a deeply prized gift

Friday, February 23, 2018

Yesterday, after months of planning, I joined the English teachers of the T/E School District (K through 12) for a teach-the-teachers session. TELL THE TRUTH. MAKE IT MATTER. memoir writing workbooks had been ordered for each of the participants. My job was to connect many of the exercises inside that book to the books that children read. I chose, among others, BOAT OF DREAMS, TAR BEACH, FRIENDS, THE MEANING OF MAGGIE, RAIN REIGN, THE BOOK THIEF, and my own FLOW, GOING OVER, and THIS IS THE STORY OF YOU.

What a conversation we had. What work the teachers themselves produced. We moved from nonfiction into fiction, from fiction into truth, from history into the right now, from the personal to the public, from the silent fear to the empathetic gesture. There are few more delightful things for this teacher-reader-writer than to be among other devoted teachers-readers-writers. I was glad for all of it.

I left the program, spent an hour with my husband, then made the half hour drive to my father's home, where I have been spending so much of these past many weeks. I stayed until the near-dark, drove home in rush-hour rain, and dropped my bag on the floor. After a week of barely an hour or two of sleep each night, after so much TV work, so much other teaching, so much corporate America, so many recommendation letters, I was, for the moment, done.

"There's something for you from Jessica," my husband said.

"Really?" I said.

"Open it," he said.

I did. And here from our beloved Juncture friend (read her words in the sidebar here) was a beautiful card, a startling note, a book called RIVERS by Alison Townsend. Out in Wisconsin, Jessica had heard Alison read. Knowing my own obsession with rivers, my FLOW, Jessica had bought me Alison's book. Alison, as it turns out, knew something about me, a circle was drawn, a beginning touching an end touching a beginning, and flowing forward through our Jessica.

There is so much about our lives that we can't understand.

I do understand love.

Thank you, Jessica.


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